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Community organizations mediate effort to resolve Confederate flag debate in Christiansburg

Christiansburg High School student Sam Sheppard, left, displays a Confederate flag while fellow student Andrew Love displays another flag in a shopping center parking lot after being suspended from school in Christiansburg, Va., Thursday, Sept....
Christiansburg High School student Sam Sheppard, left, displays a Confederate flag while fellow student Andrew Love displays another flag in a shopping center parking lot after being suspended from school in Christiansburg, Va., Thursday, Sept.... (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

CHRISTIANSBURG (WSLS 10) - The continued debate over display of the Confederate flag at Christiansburg high school has prompted community organizers to weigh in with potential solutions.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President Alvin Humes said a meeting to discuss the issues will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at the community center in Christiansburg. Humes said he wants the community to understand there are several meanings for the symbol.

Another leader in the Christiansburg community, Reverand Robert Berghuis of Asbury United Methodist Church, said he will host a community meeting next week in effort to create open dialogue on the flag and its meaning for different parts of the population.

Rev. Berghuis explained, "sort of give some historical facts behind the flag and how it was brought in the 50s and 60s in defiance of the Civil Rights Movement, and how this isn't really the flag of the Confederacy. It's a battle flag,"

Meanwhile, some parents and students of Christiansburg High School continue to protest rules limiting where Confederate flag items may, or may not be displayed on school property. Flag-holders stood outside Christiansburg High School Thursday morning protesting recent regulations from the school, banning the display of the symbol on clothing and on vehicles in the school's parking lot.

The school's stance has been it has a responsibility to provide a hostility and distraction free environment for students.

Tim Boone of a Confederate flag supporter group "Rebelution" said he is glad community leaders are taking the initiative to have an open dialogue about the flag.

"Its a shame that we all can't get along and honor each others beliefs," Boone explained. "Honestly, I hope the NAACP comes with an open mind. I hope they realize "Rebelution" and "Battle Flag for Freedom" support their rights. We support everybody rights whether you're gay, black, green; We don't care,"

Boone continued, "we're not prejudice, we're not bigots."