After more than sixty years since it was raised, the Confederate Flag outside the Caddo Parish Courthouse will come down.
The decision comes after two hearings at the Caddo Parish Commission (2002 and 2011), one hearing in the Louisiana Supreme Court, a visit from Professor Charles Ogletree of Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute on Race and Justice, and national and international attention in the media. In a 11‐1 vote, the Caddo Parish Commission authorized the flag’s removal from the grounds of the Caddo Parish Courthouse, where it has been raised each day for 61 years.
“Taking down the Confederate Flag from our Courthouse removes a significant barrier to full participation," said NAACP President Lloyd Thompson during the Commission meeting, "It gives our communities confidence to work together for the benefit of Caddo Parish as whole."
“It is the first step in the right direction,” said Reverend Mary Richard of The Church of the Holy Cross at the meeting. “The cost of the flag has been mistrust in the fair and equal meting out of justice in the Courthouse; this decision means we can finally begin to move forward and work to restore that trust.”
The Confederate Flag was erected in 1951 during a time of deep civil unrest and resistance to the advancement of African‐American citizens in Caddo Parish. The Shreveport Journal reported: “Caddo Parish police jurors voted unanimously in their meeting Wednesday to erect a Confederate flag on the statute of the courthouse building. The approved motion… brought the remark: ‘Harry Truman isn’t going to like this.’”
In a submission to the Caddo Parish Commission in 2002, social and architectural historian Eric Brock explained: “During this time, many southern cities and towns hoisted Confederate banners in reaction to federal legislation dealing… with civil rights, integration, and African‐American voting rights.“ Brock noted that the Flag was the symbol of “Shreveport’s own role in resistance” to civil rights and equality under the law.
Since the reinstatement of capital punishment in 1976, fourteen African‐American men have been sentenced to death in proceedings that took place under the Confederate Flag. The Louisiana Supreme Court recently recognized in State versus Felton Dorsey that the Flag was a symbol of endemic racism but declined to address the issue based upon the defense lawyer’s failure to object. Carl Staples, an African‐American juror, was removed from service in the Dorsey case when he asserted that real justice could not be administered under the Confederate Flag.
The vote to remove the Flag signals an endorsement of Mr. Staples’ observation, and movement in favor of full and equal participation of African‐Americans in the democratic process.
A recording of the commission meeting is online at http://www.caddo.org/