“These white men in South Carolina in 1861 started a civil war that lasted five years without a navy, army, air force or marine, because somebody was trying to tell them what to do,” Ford said. “This is South Carolina—[home of] the meanest, toughest white men on the planet.”
The civil war continues into the third millennium in South Carolina. Now the state is making news again as it plans to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the start of the never ending struggle. Even though the state is among the poorest in the nation, it found the money to hire a coordinator and establish a website for the celebration.
Tonight, in Charleston, a secession ball will be held. Ball attendees will pay $100 a ticket, don formal, period dress, eat and dance the Virginia Reel as a band plays “Dixie.” The evening’s highlight will be a play reenacting the signing of South Carolina’s Ordinance of Secession 150 years ago, which severed the state’s ties with the Union and paved the way for the Civil War.
Earlier in the day, the white celebrants will watch the 1915 silent film, Birth of a Nation, a film that portrayed the Ku Klux Klan as heros. The president of the State Senate, Glenn McConnell, will be there in full civil war regalia. It’s vintage South Carolina, a place where the Confederate Flag still flies on the statehouse grounds.
The state’s NAACP will rightly boycott it all. They accurately call it—pure and simple—a celebration of slavery. The whites who do the celebrating call it history, but most of us know better. As one born in South Carolina, it has always been very clear to me. Why it goes on is beyond me.
South Carolina seems to never change. It is a place frozen in time and prejudice. They simply hide behind an ever changing parade of masks, hiding the racism that still thrives there. It’s a sad, but seemingly endless story.