A board that presides over a public school district in the southern U.S. state of North Carolina has voted to protect freedom of speech and expression regarding a symbol that represents historic support for American slavery.
According to a North Carolina newspaper called The News & Observer of Raleigh, the Orange County Schools Board of Education refused to ban flying the Confederate flag on the grounds of all of the local district’s schools on Monday (February 27th). The board also ruled in favor of allowing students and faculty members to wear the flag on their clothing without facing any disciplinary action.
Last month, the Northern Orange County NAACP tried to put pressure on the Orange County school board to enforce a ban on the Confederate flag in all of the local public schools. NAACP President Patricia Clayton wrote a letter to all of Orange County’s school board members, which partially read as follows:
“To the NAACP, that includes the historical context of the Confederate flag to slavery, the Confederacy, the Civil War and Jim Crow. For many, the flag is a racially inflammatory symbol, which is undeniably rooted in slavery and racism. Given OCS’ commitment to serve all students, the district should not allow the Confederate flag on its campuses.” (The News & Observer of Raleigh)
Steven Halkiotis, the Orange County school board’s chairman not only refused to heed the NAACP’s request, but he accused the civil rights organization of interfering with the constitutional rights of individuals. Halkiotis worked swiftly with his fellow board members to build a recently formed advisory committee, which assists school district administrators with crafting policies on ensuring the protection of symbolic speech.
The News & Observer of Raleigh also reported that certain students and parents who live in the Orange County school district have noticed an extreme increase in the amount of people wearing clothing and driving vehicles that depict the Confederate flag.
Experts believe that the Orange County Schools Board of Education is in its fight to protect pro-slavery symbolism for the long haul. However, public school is not the only option for black parents who are sick and tired of dealing with rampant institutionalized racism like what is going in the Orange County school district in North Carolina.