My Turn, Whitney Peckman: Look at message Confederate flag carries

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 18, 2022

This past Tuesday evening, I and others spoke at the monthly meeting of the Town of Faith regarding the Faith Fourth Parade.

This holy month may seem an inappropriate time to some to bring a painful issue into view. I think it is a perfect time as we all celebrate love and togetherness no matter what faith we practice. It seems to me that this is exactly the time to strive for understanding and unity that we may survive as a nation, working for the best for all of our people in the name of love.

This is what I said at that meeting:

My name is Whitney Peckman and I have lived here for 18 years. It was only in 2008 that I had any sense of being less then welcome. I was canvassing for Obama. A truck with Confederate flags flying out the back drove towards me very, very slowly, pausing as he reached me. The driver looked at me eye to eye. He raised a hand in the gesture of shooting a gun and pulling the trigger, and said “Watch out n—– lover!” and drove on.

Just last month as I was volunteering at the Board of Elections a Confederate flag-draped truck drove slowly down the parking lot in front of our tent, stopped, looked at me and said, “I hope all you Democrats die.” Maybe they lived in Salisbury, maybe in Faith, maybe elsewhere in the county.

It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that the threat clothed as the Confederacy is a clearly articulated message. It is now, and always has been, a symbol of hatred and division for a large percentage of our population, including myself. A war with the North was fought for that division, and it was lost.

No matter how many times and ways one wants to tell that story, it was lost. The country united – not without difficulty – but it did unite. And that is what I am here to ask of Faith – to support and welcome, and to encourage that unity; to put away, not your ancestry, not your remembrances of those who fought in a war far removed from you and your children – but to put away the symbol that you know is one of terrorism and intimidation.

Consider what that symbol means to others, and move to truly welcome unity. If you choose not to retire the symbol during a parade held in honor of the United States of America – a symbol that is now a world-wide symbol for racism, the symbol of intimidation and fear in the very same vein as the Nazi symbol, what are we, your neighbors, we of other faiths, beliefs, skin colors to conclude about you, our neighbors?

Thank you for hearing my concerns.

Today, just days before we celebrate the birth of Christ (and I will add that other faiths recognize Christ as holy), I ask that everyone take a moment to truly examine your hearts as to the message that the Confederate flag carries for those who are not white. Let’s unite under our one flag of the United States of America and celebrate going in a forward direction.

Whitney Peckman lives in Salisbury.