Community Voices

Friends and Neighbors: South Carolina official ‘miseducated’ about meaning of Confederate flag

South Carolina state Rep. William ‘Bill’ Chumley.
South Carolina state Rep. William ‘Bill’ Chumley. CNN via YouTube

When I read of South Carolina state Rep. William ‘Bill’ Chumley’s remarks about the Mother Emanuel AME Church shooting on June 17 in Charleston, I wondered what he would have done in a similar situation.

“These people sat in there and waited their turn to be shot. That’s sad. Somebody in there with a means of self-defense should have stopped this … because the gunman reloaded his gun in the process,” said Chumley, according to news reports.

Chumley, a Republican, has since apologized for his remarks: “My view, which I was clumsily trying to express, was that it is painfully regrettable that someone was not able to intervene in this demented killer’s life to stop him. … The responsibility for the despicable murders in Charleston rests solely on the murderer. If any of my remarks suggested differently, I am truly sorry.”

Maybe Chumley is sorry for his remarks. I can’t read his mind. But I can’t help but think of the many shootings in the past, in which a single gunman shot multiple people, without any of the other victims jumping to the defense. Hasn’t he ever heard of someone being so stunned at such a time that they became “frozen” or unable to act for what could have been a few life-saving seconds?

I have tried to place myself in Mother Emanuel Church that fateful evening. What would I have done? I am sure that had I been there and saw the young white man walking in, I would have been happy that he had come to join in the prayer meeting.

While the Bible tells us to “watch and pray,” in my effort not to make the young stranger feel uncomfortable, I would not have stared at him. Rather, I would have given him a welcoming smiled and continued singing, praying or listening to the teaching of the pastor. That was probably the feeling of those attending the prayer meeting that night, Mr. Chumley.

It seems kind of odd to me, though, that Chumley was defending the use of the Confederate flag at the South Carolina State Capitol when he made his remarks. He blamed the “misuse and miseducation of the flag” on the efforts of protesters seeking to place the flag in a museum rather than flaunt it by flying it above the state capitol. In his defense though, I must say that he was absolutely right when he said lawmakers should be focusing on the easy access to guns.

I believe that it is Chumley who has been “miseducated” about the flag when it comes to what it means to African Americans. The Confederate flag to us, represents a dark past — slavery. And waving the Confederate flag in the faces of African Americans is kind of like waving the swastika in the faces of Jews. It is just downright offensive.

First Fridays Amateur Night

The popular “First Fridays Amateur Night” showcase has returned to the historic Lyric Theater at 819 NW Second Ave. in Overtown for its monthly talent show. Rapper “Big Pat” will also return to defend his winning title as a new slate of competitors try for the $500 prize.

If you think you have talent, then the Black Archives History and Research Foundation of South Florida is looking for you, and is accepting auditions on an ongoing basis throughout the season.

If you think you are good enough to grace the Lyric stage, you may audition in person at the theater between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by emailing audition footage performing your talent to If you wish to audition in person, call the office in advance of your arrival at 786-708-4610.

The amateur show features entertainers in several categories including singing, dancing, instrumental musicians, jugglers and comedians. Winners are chosen by a live audience, who will either clap or boo the contestant based on his/or her ability to make an impression. Those who are applauded make it to the end of the show where they go head-to-head to see who gets the loudest round of applause. Those who get booed are danced off the stage by the loud and lively Showtyme Junkanoo Band. Each winner will come back the next month to defend their title.

The amateur hour is hosted by comedian Chello Davis with DJ K-Chin and the live music by Jody Hill and Deep Fried Funk Band.

Lyric Live started Friday and will continue the first Friday of each month through Dec. 4. An all-star show will be on Feb. 5, 2016.

Power Hour program

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade offers many benefits to young people throughout the county. Recently, the organization partnered with Ross Stores to promote academic success for youngsters through its Power Hour program, an interactive after-school homework assistance program for members ages 6 to 18.

Three out of 10 youths will not graduate from high school on time, often due to serious challenges they face personally and academically. The Power Hour program offers the opportunity for club staff to support youth in developing a positive attitude about learning while emphasizing the importance of high school graduation, according to a news release.

Alex Rodriguez-Roig, president of Boys and Girls of Miami-Dade, said: “The generous support from Ross Stores shows their dedication to supporting academic success for the youth in our community and communities nationwide. … Regular participation in out-of-school-time educational programs like Power Hour, can help in addressing the high school drop out crisis and bridge the achievement gap for our youth.”

In addition, Ross Stores employees will have an opportunity to volunteer their time at Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade.

“The Power Hour program provides youth with the opportunity to learn and develop skills that enable them to be successful in their studies,” said Leslie Oestreicher, director of corporate social responsibility and sustainability for Ross Stores.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Friends and Neighbors, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.