By Peter Jenkins
The United Daughters of the Confederacy, held their Tenth-Annual Founders Day meeting in the Lod Cook Hotel at LSU this past weekend.
With the debate over the place of confederate symbols in modern society ebbing and flowing, it’s obvious that someone would object to such an organization having a meeting on LSU’s campus. Cimajie Best, President of the LSU Chapter of the NAACP, and some of her friends had a problem with it.
While the event was referred to as a protest by some outlets, Best said, “this is not a protest, this is a statement.”
“There’s something’s not quite right with what’s going on in America today,” she said.
While this event was directly in response to the group meeting on the other side of campus it was also described as a part of a larger movement. Best mentioned Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown and how she was “representing for those who couldn’t be here.” It also brings up memories of women of color such as Rekia Boyd and Nizah Morris who were also killed by police.
In recent months the Black Lives Matter movement has come to the forefront of American politics. The movement started back in July of 2013 after George Zimmerman was let off without punishment for murdering Trayvon Martin. As the name suggests, the Black Lives Matter movement is to highlight that black lives do matter. Recently, many people have responded to the movement by saying All Lives Matter.
“All lives do matter, and I’ll be the first to say they do. However, in 2015, we are focusing on the black ones – the ones being shot in the street; the one’s whose murderers are walking scott-free. Right now we’re focused on the Sandra Blands, the Kendrick Johnsons, the Tamir Rices, Eric Gardners, Mike Browns, Trayvon Martins, Oscar Grants, Sean Bells, Amadou Diallo’s, Jay Byrds, and Emmitt Tills who didn’t have anyone to stand up for them in the judicial system and say that they mattered. This is why we are saying black lives matter.”
Much of this culminated on Thursday at the event where rumors were flying left and right. Some news organizations were claiming that the NAACP was going to be burning the Confederate Flag and others were claiming that David Duke, ex-grand wizard of the KKK and ex-Louisiana state representative was going to come protest the NAACP event. Both rumors turned out to be false. While Duke was on campus he ended up being escorted off property after he showed up to the UDOC event at Lod Cook and gave a speech but then refused to leave the hotel when management asked him to. As for the flag burning, Best says there were never plans to burn a flag. In fact in Louisiana it’s illegal to desecrate the Confederate flag, when asked if she believes that law should be repealed she simply said “definitely.”
Laws that ban flag burning are swirled in arguments of respecting the past and lives lost defending an idea, however, others say that they are wholly unconstitutional and run contrary to the very idea for why free speech exists. Best said that this coming together was a show that people shouldn’t “ever be afraid to stand up for something you believe in.”
Dr. Kurt Keppler, Vice President for Student Life & Enrollment at LSU, attended the event to show support that “students have a right to say what they need to say in an environment that’s safe” and that “universities are the place to have different points of view and respectfully discuss them.”