CBC Chairman G. K. Butterfield’s Statement on the Republican Calvert Amendment to Allow Confederate Battle Flag at National Parks and Cemeteries

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative G. K. Butterfield (NC-01), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), delivered remarks on the House Floor regarding an amendment introduced by Representative Ken Calvert (R-CA) to allow the display and sale of the Confederate Battle flag at National Parks and cemeteries.  Butterfield’s remarks as prepared for delivery follow.

“I rise to express the utter outrage of the Congressional Black Caucus regarding the Calvert Amendment to allow Confederate imagery to remain on federal lands.  Don’t Republicans understand that the Confederate Battle Flag is an insult to 40 million African Americans and to many other fair-minded Americans?

“The Confederate flag is intended to celebrate a dark period of American history.  A period when four million blacks were held as slaves – held as property, as chattel, not as human beings.  The slaves were bought, sold, mortgaged, and gifted as chattel.  This period of enslavement continued for more than 200 years and did not legally end until December 6, 1865.

“Following President Lincoln’s election in November of 1860, twelve southern states ceded from the Union in response to their belief that President Lincoln would free the four million slaves.  These southern states formed the Confederate States of America.  They engaged in a brutal civil war with the Union states.  Thousands of lives were lost on both sides of the battle.  And this flag was their symbol–their battle flag.  The Southern states lost the war.  The States rejoined the Union.  For the next 50 years, every black person living in the South faced the possibility of lynching.  Between 1890-1950, more than 4,000 blacks were lynched.

“But there are some who want to continue to honor slavery and bigotry.  The horrific shooting in Charleston, South Carolina was an example of a 21st Century lynching.  The Manifesto left by the killer stated:

‘I have no choice.  I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight.  I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to whites in the country.  We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet.  Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.’

“Bigotry continues to exist in this country.  This Congress should not pass any legislation that would embolden those who continue to hold racist beliefs.  The Calvert Amendment is misguided and is viewed by the Congressional Black Caucus as racist in every respect.

“Defeat the Calvert Amendment.”

As of 11:48 am today, the House will no longer vote on amendments, motion to recommit, or passage of H.R. 2822 – Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016.  This is a change from the GOP Leadership’s previously announced schedule.

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