Charleston President Backs Flag Removal, Seeks to Preserve Other Monuments

June 26, 2015

Glenn F. McConnell, president of the College of Charleston, has faced criticism for not speaking out as other higher education leaders in South Carolina have called for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the State House grounds. McConnell, while a member of the legislature before becoming a college president, orchestrated the deal under which the flag not only appears as it does but can be moved only by supermajority votes of lawmakers. He has been declining to comment, but a day after his college's board endorsed the removal of the Confederate flag, McConnell did the same, issuing a statement Thursday. He said that he supports the idea of removing the flag "as a visible statement of courtesy and goodwill to all those who may be offended by it."

But he added that he hoped other symbols of the Confederacy, which many are calling to be removed, stay put. "I also urge all public officials and activists who are focusing on this issue to come together, the way the good people of Charleston joined hands following the terrible tragedy we suffered, and agree not to transfer the fight to other physical vestiges and memorials of our state’s past. In a spirit of goodwill and mutual respect, let us all agree that the monuments, cemeteries, historic street and building names shall be preserved and protected. How sad it would be to end one controversy only to trigger a thousand more," he said.

McConnell's appointment as college president last year was controversial for many reasons, including his long support for Confederate symbols. He used to own a shop that sold memorabilia of the South’s rebellion, and he appears in a widely circulated picture dressed as a Confederate general.

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