NAACP, CofC students fight against McConnell candidacy - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

NAACP, CofC students fight against McConnell candidacy

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- State and local leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on Monday afternoon stood alongside students, future students, alum and supporters to announce their disapproval of college officials considering Lt.Gov. Glenn McConnell as a candidate for presidency of the college.

"You cannot hire someone who diminishes the pain of my ancestors and elevates to honor those who inflicted the pain and expect me to accept that," said Rev. Nelson B. Rivers, III, the vice president of stakeholder relations for the NAACP.

Nelson and other leaders say McConnell is not qualified to diversify the College of Charleston student body and will tarnish the academic reputation of the college nationwide.

"Mr. McConnell may claim to embrace diversity," said Nelson. "But his past statements and actions show that he only embraces diversity on his terms."

Nearly 15 years ago, McConnell publicly fought to hang a Confederate flag from a pole on statehouse grounds.

For NAACP leaders, his advocacy for Confederate commemoration does not represent the progressive mindset College of Charleston students need.

"It's about the way Glenn McConnell views history," said Pete Jobe, a supporter of the NAACP. "He's simply wrong. He's romanticizing a disaster. I mean, it would be like celebrating the Holocaust and that's just crazy."

Rivers says if McConnell is made president, it could take a toll on the number of minority students willing to attend the college.

"We urge the board to seriously consider whether they want a president who has created animosity, division and protest in our state. Do they want to choose that man?" Nelson said.

In an interview at his Charleston home, McConnell said he saw Civil War re-enactment a means of visual learning.

"That's what education is about," said McConnell. "Its about depicting all the different things and learn about it. It helps you to understand and make decisions and know where you came from."

In fact, McConnell says he wants to be judged on his record, not rhetoric. 

A spokesperson for McConnell pointed out the former senator served as chairman of the African American History Monument Commission, helped to double the number of black judges across the state and secured lottery money for South Carolina's historically black colleges and universities.

McConnell says his experience in politics has prepared him to successfully lead a college.  

"Legislating is like scholarship in a way," said McConnell. "We have to research, we have to defend what we have, we have to get people to come to it and I think I have the right skill set at the right time for where the college is.

Re-enactment aside, current and future CofC students say they need assurance that McConnell will work for the good of all students at the college.

"When you are in a position of leadership and you choose to represent a school whose main push is diversity, we need to know where the balance is," said Arvaughnna Postema, a graduating senior at CofC. 

McConnell is set to have an on-campus interview on Thursday.  

  • Valencia Wicker

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