A meeting of the United Daughters of the Confederacy on LSU’s campus this week has prompted pushback from some students, who say they are planning a demonstration in response.
Cimajie Best, president of LSU’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the Lod Cook Hotel and Conference Center’s role as host to a group that celebrates the Confederacy sends the wrong message to students — particularly at a time when the nation is embroiled in a debate over the appropriateness of Confederate symbolism and imagery.
“It’s bad enough that we have buildings on campus named after Confederate soldiers, but I’ve come to the conclusion that won’t change in my lifetime,” Best said. “This is taking it too far.”
Sarah Grace Brooks, president of the Baton Rouge chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy and Louisiana division vice president, confirmed to The Advocate that the group’s three-day annual meeting will be held at the Cook Hotel on campus this week. Brooks did not respond to multiple requests for additional information about the group’s plans or a response to the possible demonstration from students. Margaret Tyler, who is identified as the president of the Daughters division that covers Baton Rouge, also did not respond to a request for more information.
LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard said the university has no involvement in the Daughters of the Confederacy event.
“LSU’s association with this event is limited to the rental of the facility. LSU does not regulate non-university related functions. Rental of an LSU facility does not imply any endorsement,” he said in a statement.
Best, who said she planned to file a complaint with LSU’s Office of Student Advocacy and Accountability, said she views it as LSU granting legitimacy to the group.
“It’s just a slap in the face for LSU to even be hosting such an organization,” she said.
Daughters of the Confederacy was founded in 1894 to honor those who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. The group has erected markers and monuments across the South, including several in Louisiana.
The national debate over — and apparent backlash against — such Confederate displays in the Deep South was reignited this summer following the mass murder of nine people in a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina. The shooting prompted the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the South Carolina Capitol.
Some New Orleans leaders have pushed for the removal of Confederate displays there. But reminders of the South’s reign over Louisiana still loom large across the state — from bumper stickers to street names. Two of the four marble statues in the State Capitol’s Memorial Hall honor people who served as Confederate generals, in addition to serving as governors of Louisiana.
Across the country, groups have hosted Confederate flag-burning demonstrations, including at least one such protest in New Orleans.
Best characterized the NAACP-sponsored event slated for 5 p.m. Thursday as a “Confederate barbecue,” where the flag will be “roasted” on a grill.
It is against the law in Louisiana and four other states to mutilate the Confederate flag. Louisiana’s law sets punishment at a $100 fine and 90-day jail sentence for anyone “convicted of mutilating, defiling or casting contempt by word or act” against the flag, though it’s unlikely that would be enforced because of U.S. Supreme Court rulings that have upheld the right to burn the United States flag.
Best said she has invited various campus groups to join the “Confederate barbecue” at Milford Wampold Park, sometimes referred to as Stanford Park.
She said the demonstration will be a celebration of the Black Lives Matter movement but also a time of “good food and fellowship” to promote unity.
“Everyone is welcome,” she said.