The Sons of Confederate Veterans is an international organization dedicated to the preservation of the reputation and honor of the Confederate soldier. It is apolitical and non-sectarian. Its membership includes white, black, Hispanic, Jewish and American Indian descendants of Confederate soldiers and sailors. As such, that organization has frequently been involved in disagreements with local school administrators who have attempted to limit the constitutional rights of free expression on the part of students. The recent brouhaha in Floyd County, however, places the Kentucky Division of the organization in a very welcome role of supporting local administrators against anti-Confederate agitators from outside the district in question. In that situation, a local school board member expressed an opinion that Confederate flags and other items might be inappropriate at Allen Central High School. There was some discussion, and wide agreement was reached that the choice of a mascot and spirit figure was a school function, not that of the district or anybody else. So it should have ended.
It did not. An AP “news” story apparently attracted the attention of racist elements in Louisville, who have, with the support of political figures in Eastern Kentucky, attempted to make an even larger issue of the debate. The Kentucky Division of the SCV has been asked frequently during the past week whether we would intervene in the case. In answer, the Division’s Executive Council has adopted the following position:
“The Kentucky Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans views with great distaste any attempt on the part of any individual, group or organization that attempts to override the expressed desire on the part of a local community concerning its own heritage and ways of peacefully expressing respect for such heritage. This distaste is expressed without regard to the race, religion or politics of the individual or group in question.
In the recent past, the Kentucky Division has assisted students who opposed the actions of school administrators banning the Confederate flag, and equally assisted students who opposed administrators who wished to ban “black nationalist” displays. We believe that individual heritage and individual communities’ choices are the very epitome of what the Confederate soldier, white and black, fought for.
We are deeply proud of any school or community that chooses to display the inherent pride, independence and self-sufficiency of the Confederate soldier or flag in a respectful and meaningful way, to include the adoption of a “Rebel” mascot. We support this in spite of the fact that the term “Rebel” itself was rejected by many Southerners.
Above all, we oppose outside agitators who come into rural communities and attempt to dictate the terms on which a school or community may choose its mascot. We reject out of hand that there is any racial or ethnic slur involved, and we feel that the actions of those who have so inserted themselves into local matters are uncalled-for and detestable. It is, in our opinion, especially reprehensible when the outside agitators use racist rhetoric too attempt to bully students, schools, and administrations for their own narrow ends.
While the Kentucky Division will not, without invitation, attempt to enter any local decision making process with regard to the above, we will, if invited, bring to bear the full range of legal recourse available to us in support of local schools or districts who wish to resist such agitation.
In no way should this statement be taken as a rejection of, or have any dampening effect upon, members of the SCV or local Camps of the Kentucky Division, working within their own schools and school districts to support local decision making and resisting outside interference in the operation of local schools. Such local involvement is viewed as good citizenship, and is strongly recommended.
Dr. T. Y. Hiter, Commanding
The Kentucky Division, SCV