Monday, April 18, 2011

In South Carolina Ford Answers Critics

Sen. Ford answers critics on Civil War observance
by Tom Hayes on April 18, 2011

Legislative Black Caucus member Sen. Robert Ford (D-Charleston) recently received criticism from a number of African-American citizens for carrying a Confederate flag to the podium in the Senate Chambers on April 7 and declaring that African-Americans should take part in celebrating events surrounding the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

Known as one of the Senate’s most outspoken members, Ford appeared recently on SCETV’s “State House Today” to defend his comments.

One of the things that people were upset about in the African-American community was when I said before the Civil War your ancestors and my ancestors were slaves. But after the Civil War, they were freed. That is something to celebrate. If anybody in their right mind can’t celebrate their freedom after being in slavery for 246 years, then something is wrong with them.

The South Carolina chapter of the NAACP has maintained a tourism boycott of the state for nearly 12 years, since a Confederate battle flag was moved from the State House dome and placed adjacent to the Civil War monument on the State House grounds. The civil rights organization calls the Confederate flag a symbol of racism and hate.

Ford says, as a follower of Dr. Martin Luther King, he will not serve as a proponent of hate.

When I met Dr. Martin Luther King, I was 15 years old. Can you imagine a 15-year-old student meeting Dr. King and within a year’s time (of) working on his staff? The kind of impact those ministers in that organization had on my young life; you mean somebody has the audacity in 2011 to try to get me to hate somebody?

Ford says he is not one who is affected by criticism from any person or group.

I don’t take heat. The reason I don’t take heat because I know who I am , I know my calling, and I know my responsibility to mankind and I’m going to fulfill that… I’m not going to ever hate nobody.