Conference For Neo-Confederates To Be Held At North Carolina Hilton On Final Day Of Black History Month
The Hilton is facing massive backlash from civil rights groups urging them to cancel the conference.
February 29, 2020 at 12:19 am
An Embassy Suites by Hilton hotel near the Raleigh-Durham Airport in North Carolina is under fire for hosting a Sons of Confederate Veterans conference to close out Black History Month.
In honor of Confederate General Stephen Lee, the group has held the Stephen D. Lee Institute every year since 2006 to celebrate the values espoused by Confederate leaders. The conference will take place on Friday and Saturday, featuring about 60 members, their families and speakers like Marshall DeRosa who has ties to white supremacy groups.
Several local groups have banded together to try and stop the conference, and protests have already been planned by a group called Smash Racism Raleigh.
“The Sons of Confederate Veterans are a white supremacist organization with ties to the KKK, League of the South, and other violent, fascist groups. The state of North Carolina refuses to remove the racist confederate monuments from the state capitol building, making racist groups like the SCV feel welcome in North Carolina. Our community, which opposes racism and bigotry, wishes to make sure they know that their hate is not welcome in our state,” the group said in a statement on Tuesday.
In a phone interview with The News & Observer from South Carolina, organizer Chris Sullivan defended the conference and said this was the first time they have faced any kind of protest since they began holding it. Last year's event was held in Birmingham, Alabama.
“It’s just an opportunity to get together and have some conversations and dialogue about the war between the states and that aspect of American history,” Sullivan said, adding that theme of this year’s event will be “Is the South American?”
Brandi Collins-Dexter, the senior campaign director for Color of Change, sent a letter to the hotel last month asking that they ban the group from their establishment and "not enable hate."
Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. and the hotel branch itself didn't respond to Collins-Dexter's letter or requests for comments from a number of organizations.
“They, much like neo-Nazis, recognize Confederate iconography as a shorthand expression of white supremacy and the deadly ways it intersects with this country’s toxic legacies of racism. Allowing this hate-filled organization space at your hotel validates its existence and intentions,” Collins-Dexter continued. “Furthermore, with known connections to the KKK, having this convening at Brier Creek Embassy Suites jeopardizes the safety and comfort of other hotel guests,” Collins-Dexter said in her letter, which she shared with HuffPost.
Sons of Confederate Veterans has faced decades of protests and opposition from civil rights groups for routinely associating with white supremacist and neo-nazi organizations and events, including a situation in 2017 where they marched alongside the Ku Klux Klan in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Smash Raleigh Racism has been battling confederacy groups in North Carolina for years, spearheading opposition to Confederate monuments on the North Carolina Capitol grounds.
Sons of Confederate Veterans was in the news recently for negotiating with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Board of Governors to take control of the controversial Silent Sam Confederate monument which was taken down by protesters in 2018. There was nationwide outrage when it was revealed the university planned to not only give the statue to the group but also $2.5 million in taxpayer money so that they could preserve it.
The judge who decided the settlement reversed his decision earlier this month, reports The Daily Tar Heel. The statue now remains in the possession of the school.
Amanda Jackson, the media culture and economic justice director at Color of Change and a resident of Raleigh, told HuffPost that the hotel's actions were unacceptable.
“The fact that a hate group can book a block of rooms and have a field conference and no one blinks an eye about it — like, I think we have to question why that is. It is not lost on me that the Sons of Confederate Veterans had to have their conference during Black History Month. And I think that that is the underlying notion that needs to be confronted around why this is so wrong. Why aren’t we having the conversation of what it means to be on the side of the Confederacy?” Jackson said.