Summerville, SC — A Confederate battle flag flaps from the porch alongside an American flag. A sign on the metal fence reads “Confederate Boulevard.” The small coupe in the driveway is emblazoned with Confederate symbols. Right in the middle of Brownsville, the historically black Summerville neighborhood — “the very heart of the black community in Summerville,” in the words of Town Councilman Aaron Brown.
The symbols began going up about a month ago, a month or so after new residents moved in, neighbors said. The people who live around the home are outraged. Others in the community roll past in their cars, staring in disbelief. This is a community where crosses were burned years ago, neighbors said.
The residents said they understand that some people consider the flag and other insignia symbols of heritage, but to the community the connection is to slavery, servitude, lynchings and the Ku Klux Klan. “This is a close-knit community. It’s in turmoil now. (The resident) should have been more sensitive to where she moved,” said Patterson James, who lives next door. “She told me, at least she doesn’t have Hell’s Angels stuff flying.”
The flag and other symbols are part of a yard festooned with a wooden bald eagle sculpture on the mailbox, a red, white and blue eagle decoration hanging from the tree and signs posted around the electrified fence that read, “Posted Private,” “No Trespassing,” and warn people that they risk their lives by approaching.
A woman who came to the door at the home would not give her name. “We’re all human and we can make issues with whatever you want. But I don’t tell them what to hang in their yard and they don’t tell me what to hang in my yard,” said the woman, who is white. “I’m not trying to make issues. That’s not a rebel flag. It’s a Confederate flag.”
Community leaders are worried about a potential for violence if emotions get too heated, Brown said.
“You’re going to come into the middle of a black community and put up a Confederate flag? That’s not even common sense,” said Rollins Edwards, the former town and Dorchester County councilman, who lives a few doors down from the house. “We’re not going to have that,” he said. “We’ve got to get that thing out of the way.”
“She’s a nice lady,” said Wanda Duberry, who lives next door to the resident. “She says it’s not hatred, it’s heritage. Everybody’s got their own preferences. But considering the situation with the Confederate flag, I believe it should be out of sight. Out of sight, out of mind.”