Several new details have emerged from the divisive secession ball held Monday in Charleston, South Carolina — a gala dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the state’s signing of the Ordinance of Secession.
About 120 protesters marched in opposition to the event, carrying signs of protest and singing “We Shall Overcome.” South Carolina NAACP President Lonnie Randolph, who joined the protest, told TPM in a phone interview this week that he felt the need to speak out against the ball, calling the secession “the greatest act of terrorism” waged on America.
The gala included a 45-minute reenactment of the signing of the Ordinance of Secession, and the original document was on display at the event.
The State reported Monday that Charleston Mayor Joe Riley was heckled before the ball, when he claimed the Civil War started over slavery. “You’re a liar,” someone shouted at him. The issue of slavery’s involvement in the war remains a point of contention among those who celebrate confederate history. Event organizers claimed they were celebrating an “act of political courage,” not slavery. Regardless, Randolph said the celebration of secession distorts the historical facts of the period.
“America has no conscience when it comes to those people who spent so many years in servitude and bondage,” he told TPM. “The lie has been allowed to be carried on from one generation to the next. The folks who support it are in a state of denial over what their ancestors did. They took a military stand against America, they seceded against America and went to war against America. How much plainer can it get?”
Event organizers did not return TPM’s repeated requests for comments. But Randolph told TPM the NAACP will protest any of the other planned secession celebrations, if they deem them to be disrespectful.
David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com