Benjamin Watson, a tight end for the New Orleans Saints and a former New England Patriot, authored an insightful Facebook post on removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called for the flag to be removed after a white man shot and killed nine black worshipers at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Watson attended Northwestern High School in Rock Hill, South Carolina and shared a story about one of his friendships being influenced by the Confederate flag.
“I can remember visiting a teammate’s home for the first time my sophomore year. Frank, a white offensive guard on my high school football team, had quickly become my closest friend, welcoming me, the new guy, when others weren’t so quick to do so. As I walked into his room, I froze, staring uncomfortably at the large Rebel flag, hanging above his bed. I remember the lump in my throat as I briefly attempted to convey in the most non-condemning way, what the flag represented to me and many others like me. Because of the lingering heaviness of the moment, I can’t recall much after that but I do remember how valued I felt, when I returned to Frank’s home some time later and the flag was gone! He didn’t have to, but because he cared about our friendship, because he cared about me, he empathetically removed the offensive banner on my behalf and maybe for the first time heard how painful that symbol could be. That day was a turning point in our relationship and today; Frank continues to be one of my best friends.’’
Watson wrote that he does not want the flag removed for political reasons or to appease those people calling for it to be removed.
“If we remove the Confederate flag from the State Capitol for any reason other than a change in the hearts of South Carolinians, we may as well leave it be,’’ Watson wrote. “The past and it’s people, as acclaimed or afflicted as they may be, should always be remembered. But it is difficult to completely “move forward’’ if painful, divisive icons continue to stand unchallenged.’’
You can and should read the entire post here.
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