Originally created 01/03/01

Floridian threatens flag rally



The president of the NAACP's Columbia County, Fla., branch says he plans to organize a protest in February if the Confederate flag is not removed from the Lake City, Fla., official city seal.

Glenel Bowden said if the city doesn't take action, he plans to notify Florida and regional leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and call for a protest Feb. 18 during the annual Olustee Festival. The festival commemorates the Civil War's Battle of Olustee.

Mr. Bowden recently told the city council that including the Confederate flag in its city seal is insensitive to black residents, city employees and taxpayers, and he asked that the flag be removed.

A revised logo shown at the Dec. 18 city council meeting replaced the Confederate flag with Florida's flag behind a soldier on horseback. Mr. Bowden and NAACP members support that version of the seal.

"Confederate soldiers themselves are not the issue; it's the flag that's the issue," Mr. Bowden said.

But City Councilman George R. Ward, one of five members, said the issue is not on the agenda for the council's next meeting Tuesday, and said he's heard nothing from his peers about it.

At the Dec. 18 meeting, Mayor W.R. "Ray" Kirkland directed council members to find nominees for a committee to review the issue. Mr. Ward said he hasn't found anyone.

"Personally, I think it's a nonissue," he said.

Mr. Ward is more concerned about several projects totaling about $20 million, among them road improvements, new fire and police stations, a renovated city hall and a new water-treatment plant.

"All of this stuff seems to me to be a whole lot more important than a flag," he said.

Most of Mr. Ward's constituents favor leaving the seal alone, he said.

The seal was chosen from 16 entries in a contest and approved by the city council in 1981.

Mr. Bowden, who served on the council from 1982 to 1998, didn't say why he didn't pursue the issue sooner. Rosa Parks waited some time before complaining about sitting at the back of a bus, he said.