Heritage and Hate

Jul 1, 2015

by Herb Silverman

After living in the Northeast my entire life, I moved to Charleston, South Carolina in 1976 to teach at the College of Charleston. I came with stereotypical ideas about the South, but was certainly open to changing my mind and hoped I would. Charleston is a lovely city, known for its gracious living. I’d never been known as a gracious liver.

My first week there, I saw a notice about a duplicate bridge game open to the public at the Christian Family Y and thought this would be an opportunity to meet people with common interests. Since I didn’t have a partner, the organizer found a pleasant woman who agreed to be my partner.

When the game ended, I said to her, “I’m used to seeing the YMCA up North. Down here is it called it the ‘Christian Family Y’?” She looked at me for a minute, and responded, “Oh, you must mean the black Y.” I subsequently learned that the former YMCA where I was playing bridge had been kicked out of the national organization because it refused to integrate. The local group continued to meet in the same building and renamed it the “Christian Family Y.” A smaller Y had opened for blacks, but without bridge games. That ended my duplicate bridge career in Charleston. (Ironically, the Christian Family Y was eventually torn down and replaced by condominiums, and I now live in one of them.)

A few weeks later, I was shocked to learn that the Confederate flag flew atop the State Capitol. That flag, to me, was a symbol of white supremacy, hatred, and slavery. It might rate space in a museum along with other artifacts of the Civil War (also referred to by some as “The War of Northern Aggression”), but deserves no greater respect.

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