6 Real Symbols of South Carolina’s Southern Pride
The Confederate battle flag was an antiquated symbol for a way of life no longer relevant or desirable for most present-day South Carolinians. So, where can you look to find symbols that more accurately reflect who we are as a people? I have a few suggestions.
6. Our Food
Sweet potatoes, fried chicken, collard greens, BBQ – for much of our history what you ate defined who you were. We didn’t just segregate our lunch counters. Our palates developed along lines of race and class as well. Today, however, from the lunch buffet at New Brookland Baptist to my personal favorite, Lizard’s Thicket, we can sit together in agreement, there’s no other cookin’ quite like our cookin’.
5. The USC/ Clemson Rivalry
If you really need something to draw heated lines of contention among even your own family members, we suggest determining if your blood runs orange or garnet. Yet even when athletic rivalries divide us, our state’s flagship universities give us plenty of pride. From top ranked MBA programs to award winning scientific research, the two schools have generated a statewide economic impact of more than $5 billion.
4. Our Leadership
Though a few of the usual suspects (ahem, Lee Bright,) continued their fight to preserve misguided ideals of heritage surrounding the Confederate flag, in the last few weeks South Carolina’s leaders, from Governor Haley to Senator Vincent Sheheen, have crossed party lines to remove this divisive symbol from our state house lawn. Southerners are known for our hospitality. Thanks to our leadership, our statehouse now reflects it.
3. Our Communities
We take care of our own and are quick to unite in their defense when necessary. Nowhere was our sense of shared community more evident than in our state’s swift efforts to stand with the Emmanuel Nine in the call for the removal of the Confederate flag from the state house lawn. Yet this isn’t the first time our collective loyalty to our people made national headlines. When the mayor of Latta, SC, fired the beloved local sheriff, Crystal Moore, he may have mistakenly believed his homophobic values would find plenty of sympathy in this tiny town of 1,400. He couldn’t have been more wrong. Sixty-nine percent of the town’s registered voters showed up for a special election to strip Mayor Earl Bullard of his powers and restore Sheriff Moore’s employment.
2. Our Children
As a graduate student in education and a Girls Rock Columbia volunteer, I get to spend a lot of time with my community’s children. From the youngest elementary school students to the edgy punk rock high schoolers who bring the noise to GRC, when working with these kids, I frequently find myself inspired and in awe of their compassion for others. It is a testament to their parents and to the adults of the communities supporting their growth and development. With each generation, we will get a little better. It’s fulfilling to see the proof in our school lunchrooms.
1. The Palmetto
The tree is on our state flag for a reason. According to Revolutionary War era lore, the soft palmetto log walls of Fort Moultrie withstood British cannon fodder by absorbing the shock of each hit. Some versions of the story even claim cannon balls bounced off the walls. Regardless of what really happened, the palmetto is a symbol of our state’s resiliency. As was the case at Fort Moultrie, those of us who have fought to bring down the Confederate flag realize, though we’ve won the most recent battle, our state has a long fight ahead to achieve justice and equality for all. Let the palmetto remind us we have what it takes to continue fighting for many a “great day in South Carolina” to come.