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  NAACP OKs Tourism Boycott of S.C.

By Seth Hettena
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, Oct. 16, 1999; 3:11 p.m. EDT

LINTHICUM, Md. –– The NAACP's national board on Saturday approved a tourism boycott of South Carolina until the state removes the Confederate flag from the Statehouse dome.

"The ratification officially mobilizes all of our chapters and members to not visit or spend dollars in South Carolina until the flag is removed," said NAACP spokeswoman Sheila Douglas.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Jim Hodges said the boycott decision will make it harder to get a compromise to resolve the issue.

Nina Brook also criticized the House, and Republican Speaker David Wilkins for the failure to get a compromise.

"A very real obstacle remains, a majority in the House who say they will not vote for a compromise, and the speaker of the House who says he will not vote for a compromise," Brook said.

The House rejected a compromise to move the flag to a Confederate monument on the Statehouse grounds several years ago.

"I have not seen a significant change or shift in the House's position on that," Wilkins said.

Supporters say the flag it represents Southern heritage and honors South Carolinians who died in the Civil War. The NAACP says it is a symbol of racism.

The South Carolina branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People proposed the tourism boycott of the state in July. It would begin Jan. 1.

The NAACP's national leaders say they are working to make sure South Carolina will feel economic pain from the national boycott.

More than $280 million a year that African-American travelers spend in South Carolina could be at stake.

"We know that economic sanctions work," said Lonnie Randolph Jr., chairman of the NAACP's programs and research committee.

Several groups from across the nation have already canceled plans to hold meetings and conventions in South Carolina since the NAACP called for the boycott.

Earlier this week, the Seventh-day Adventist Church canceled a meeting that would have brought 7,000 people to Columbia for four days in March. Officials said the event would have brought $500,000 worth of tourism business.

The flag controversy has embroiled South Carolina for years. The state is the only one in the nation to fly the Confederate flag over its Statehouse, although Georgia and Mississippi incorporate part of the design into their state flags.

Officials at the state NAACP office in Columbia said 42 state and national groups have now joined the boycott, either canceling meetings or holding them out of state.

© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press

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