The Confederate Flag no longer flies in front of the Pensacola Bay Center since last Thursday, December 11th, when the Escambia County Board of Commissioners voted 4 to 1 to only fly the American and Florida flags at county facilities. The on again-off again controversy caused the Spanish, French, British and Confederate flags to be taken down and the American Flag now flies alone.
From Pensacola With Love, a diverse group of community activists, organized the protest of the controversial practice of flying a Confederate battle flag at the Pensacola Bay Center through social media and word of mouth. They were still building momentum from their successful rally with 200 supporters on Sunday December 7th in the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza as they continued to utilize social media to spread the word about their next objective.
The rally organizers, namely Clarisa Ferrar, Haley Morsiette, Katrina Ramos, and Michael Hansell kept their momentum alive for the Thursday commission meeting. Research by the group uncovered a challenge to the flying of the Confederate Flag in 2000 when Commissioner Willie Junior served on the county commission. Another vote was taken during the time that Marie Young served on the commission.
However, this time with speaker after speaker calling for a change in the practice, Commissioner Lumon May’s motion to specifically allow only the American and Florida flags to fly at county facilities passed with a 4 to 1 vote. Commissioner Wilson Robertson was the only commissioner to vote for continuing to fly the Confederate flag. As a part of the debate among the commissioners, Robertson attempted to offer a compromise to replace the battle flag with the Third National Flag. Nevertheless, in an evolving atmosphere of political correctness Robertson stood alone this time.
It seemed ironic that the newest member of the commission, Commissioner Doug Underhill, struck an impassioned patriotic tone when he stated, “When each of us took an oath to lead this county, we took an oath to this flag,” he said, gesturing to the stars and stripes of the American flag behind the county officials. He continued his comments with, “This is the flag of Escambia County, this one flag. As much as I love my Southern heritage and my Southern past, it is my American present and my American future for which I was willing to lay down my life. So as we go forward thinking about that, putting any other flag on the dais with this one is an insult not to our past, but to our present and our future.”
Commissioner Lumon May seemed emboldened following Underhill’s remarks and made a motion to fly only the American and Florida flags at all county facilities. Thus, the motion to remove not just the Confederate battle flag, but the other three national flags of Spain, Britain, and France was on the floor as well and passed with a 4-1 vote.
Of course success often creates new challenges. As the Pensacola Voice goes to print, the group of young leaders has learned that a large number of people are poised to petition the Escambia County Commissioners at their next meeting on Thursday, December 18th at 4:30 to reverse their decision. Additionally, Pensacola With Love returns to MLK Plaza Sunday December 21st at 3:00 pm to continue building momentum for new challenges.
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