Hillsborough town hall centers on Confederate flag debate

Andrea Blanford Image
Friday, June 9, 2017
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Confederate symbols in schools were the topic of a Hillsborough town hall.

HILLSBOROUGH, North Carolina (WTVD) -- The debate about whether Orange County administrators should ban Confederate flag apparel from school campuses took center stage again at a town hall meeting Thursday night.

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The Orange County Human Relations Commission and Hate-Free Schools Coalition hosted the forum that drew a large crowd to the Whitted Building in Hillsborough.

Panelists included history experts, an attorney, and parents representing both sides of the controversial issue that the Orange County Board of Education has been considering for months.

"This is not simply about being proud to be a Southerner," said panelist Dr. Reginald Hildebrand, Professor Emeritus, UNC Department of History, who offered a detailed history of the Confederate battle flag. "When it prevailed, slavery was preserved," he said.

The school board is considering a revision to its dress code policy that would strengthen language to ban symbols that are indecent, profane, or racially intimidating that create a reasonable forecast of disruption.

"Although the school board is working to create stronger language it is simply not enough," said Latarndra Strong, founder of the Hate-Free Schools Coalition.

While many parents expressed concerns about how the Confederate flags are perceived by some in the classroom, others said they're concerned about protecting students' right to freedom of expression.

"This is not about the flag as much as it is an attack on First Amendment in the United States," said panelist Ashley Campbell.