RALEIGH, N.C. —
"He is right that it has a historical context," Barber said. "But what is that history? The history of racism. The history of lynchings. The history of death. The history of slavery. If you say that shouldn't be offensive, then either you don't know the history, or you are denying the history."
Sessions of the General Assembly moved to a newer building a half-century ago, but the old Capitol building is still routinely used as a venue for official state government events. McCrory's office is on the first floor, as are the offices of his chief of staff and communications staff.
The Republican governor was in the House chamber where the Confederate flag hangs as recently as Thursday, when he presided over the swearing-in ceremony of his new Highway Patrol commander.
The presentation of the Confederate battle flag at state government buildings has long been an issue of debate throughout the South. For more than a decade, the NAACP has urged its members to boycott South Carolina because of that state's display of the flag on the State House grounds.
Prior to taking his current job in North Carolina in 2006, Hardison worked as director at the Mississippi home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, which is operated as a museum and library owned by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The group has led the fight in the South for the proud display of the Confederate flag, which it contends is a symbol of heritage, not hate.
Hardison said the battle flag was displayed with other flags described in the diary of a North Carolina woman who visited the Capitol in 1863. A large U.S. flag displayed in the Senate chamber is reminiscent of a trophy of war captured from Union troops at the Battle of Plymouth.