Confederate flag group seeks permit for parade on MLK Day in Lexington – Roanoke Times: Local News
It has come to this in Lexington: A group that venerates the Confederate flag is seeking a city permit to hold a parade on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The Virginia Flaggers don’t really want to march through the streets of downtown on Jan. 16, though.
Instead, they have offered to trade dates with an anti-racism group that obtained its own parade permit for the previous Saturday, the day that traditionally has been reserved by a local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans for its celebration of Lee-Jackson Day.
In their “deliberate effort to disrupt” the Confederate parade, organizers of the Community Anti-Racism Education Initiative said they wanted an alternative that would honor King, said Grayson Jennings, a member of the Virginia Flaggers.
“With this in mind, and in the spirit of unity and ‘celebrating diversity,’ we have notified Mayor [Mimi] Elrod and City Council of our intentions and offer to effectively ‘swap’ our permits,” the Flaggers said in a statement Tuesday.
The prospect of dueling parades — and the scramble to obtain permits for them on a holiday weekend that honors a black civil rights leader and two Southern generals — is the latest such controversy for Lexington, where a rich Civil War history often conflicts with changing views of what the Confederate flag means today.
Lyndon Sayers of the anti-racism group, also known as CARE, said organizers are discussing the Virginia Flaggers’ proposal. A decision could be announced as soon as Wednesday, he said.
Asked what kind of parade the Flaggers would hold on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jennings wrote in an email:
“We are confident that the folks at C.A.R.E. will do the right thing and consent to switch the parade dates, especially since their expressed intent is to honor Martin Luther King, and our expressed intent is to honor Lee & Jackson.”
The dust-up began two weeks ago, when the Lexington City Council granted CARE a permit to hold a parade on Jan. 14, the Saturday that follows a Friday state holiday honoring Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson — and the day on which the Stonewall Brigade Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has been holding its Lee-Jackson Day parade for the past 15 years.