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Group condemns selling Confederate flag

Nick Shiach
Contributing Writer

Over the last two years, there has been an increasing effort from Wooster’s community to stop Wayne County Fair vendors from displaying and selling the Confederate battle flag.

The effort to ban the sale of the flag at the Fair is led by the Wooster/Orrville Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), along with Andries Coetzee, the pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church. The group, called Wayne County Fair For All, formed in 2015 in response to the Charleston Church Massacre, in which nine black churchgoers were murdered in the Emanuel AME Church by a white supremacist who touted the Confederate flag.

Shortly after the shooting, the then-president of the NAACP Chapter Juanita Greene sent a letter to the Wayne County Fair Board asking them to ban the sale and display of the flag at the Fair.

“The flag represents a deeply shameful period for our nation, and the harmful, hateful effects of that time are still felt today by African Americans and the nation as a whole,” Greene wrote.

After the NAACP’s request was turned down, Westminster and the NAACP decided to create a joint booth at the 2016 Fair to raise awareness. Volunteers at that year’s booth were subjected to extreme verbal abuse.

“[One person] told me to ‘go learn how to speak English and get the fuck back to where I’m from,’” Coetzee recalled.

This year, the group faced less verbal abuse, and even saw a small reduction in the number of vendors selling or displaying the Confederate flag. Coetzee attributes part of this success to the campus community.

“This year we had. . . stronger support from the College of Wooster. It was wonderful to see some faculty members there and also the [Center for] Diversity and Inclusion … They really supported the movement,” said Coetzee.

Coetzee also expressed appreciation for President Bolton, who recently became a Silver Life Member of the NAACP.

Stephen Lumetta ’18, a student volunteer at this year’s booth, expressed why he’s passionate about this issue.

“To allow the sale of the Confederate flag is to say to black citizens and citizens of color ‘You’re not welcome here.’ We want to change that,” said Lumetta.

The student leaders of Wooster Conservatives declined to provide a comment for this article.

Coetzee said attendance at the Fair has been declining, especially after a white supremacist from Ohio murdered a woman in Charlottesville.

“[Ohio has] become a hotbed, like a breeding ground, for white supremacy,” said Coetzee. “I think people are afraid to go to the Fair because of the Fair’s support of white supremacy by trying to sell the Confederate flag.”

Coetzee, who grew up in Apartheid South Africa, reminds community members to be conscious of racial issues.

“Although most white people will speak out against white supremacy … most of us still aspire [to] white European values and actually

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