Some upset over gala to commemorate 150th anniversary of secession

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The 150th anniversary of the signing of the ordinance of secession is in four days and a secession gala will take place Monday in downtown Charleston. The gala has some local officials concerned.

Several groups, including the NAACP, are leery about the black tie affair.

"We think this is a way to connect all citizens, black, white, no matter what their background was to have a better understanding of the civil war," said Michael Allen with the National Park Service.

Allen says commemoration events planned for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War are supposed to remember a somber time in history.

"Over four years left 620,000 soldiers dead, that's not a celebration," Allen said.

Over the next four years, organizers have planned different events they say will educate the public on all aspects of the civil war.

Members of the NAACP say they haven't formed a solid opinion on the commemorations.

"I think if the commemoration is done properly and objectively and deals with ethnic diversity then it could be a good thing," said Rev. Joe Darby of the NAACP.

The same is not being said about the secession gala that is planned for Monday night, the anniversary of South Carolina leaving the union. The gala is organized by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

"The dancing and toasting, they're going to celebrate the ordinance of secession in South Carolina. I think that's an inappropriate celebration," Darby said.

Last week, the NAACP announced its plans to protest outside of the gala as well as have a rally to raise awareness about what they believe the purpose of the gala is.

"You're toasting those who decided to leave the United States of America to form their own separate country and did so for the rights of states to own people," Darby said.

"The fact that people want to have a ball and dress up and recreate a time in a celebratory event is their right, but I don't agree with it," Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said.

Darby says he is glad to hear the mayor of Charleston disagrees with the secession gala event, but he thinks more should be done about the public celebration.

"I wish because he feels that way it was not being held in a municipal building that's maintained with tax dollars of all Charlestonians," Darby said.

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