In the aftermath of the Charleston, S.C., tragedy on June 17 that involved the murders of nine people in a historic black church, impassioned calls for government action toward the removal of the Confederate flag at the state’s capitol have populated the news cycle.
With this turn of events, South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin has felt the urge to speak out — and support the movement to remove the flag, which has been flown on governmental grounds in that state since 1961.
“I stand with our governor, Nikki Haley, with our mayor, Steve Benjamin, with our school president, Harris Pastides, with our athletic director, Ray Tanner, with coach Spurrier, coach Staley and all other University of South Carolina coaches and state leaders that have spoken in calling for the removal of the confederate flag from the statehouse grounds,” Martin’s statement reads. “As a first generation American and a son of Cuban immigrants who came to this country in search of freedom; as the husband to another first generation American whose parents immigrated from Jamaica in search of a better life; as the father to three beautiful children who embody the splendor of diversity and as a life-long advocate and teacher to countless inner city kids and disadvantaged youths, I ask our state leaders to do away with those antiquated symbols that represent hate and oppression to so many people.”
Martin’s comments come less than a week removed from Gamecocks football coach Steve Spurrier saying, “My opinion is we don’t need the Confederate flag at our capitol.”
On an SEC-basketball-coaches conference call Monday morning, Martin reiterated his thoughts, repeating his belief that the Confederate flag should freely allowed to be displayed in private spaces and in public museums.
Fellow SEC coach John Calipari is on the same page as Martin.
Was just asked a question on a bball conference call about the confederate flag. I don’t want any confusion. I think we should take it down!
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) June 29, 2015
Martin’s statement continues: “My path through the years as a basketball coach has taken me to many African-American, Hispanic and other minorities’ homes. It’s been in those visits, in the eyes of parents who simply hope for a better life for their children and whose faith in God is at times their only refuge, that I am reminded how alike we all are. It is in those similarities — love for our families, respect for each other and sacrifice for our loved ones — that we much forge our future.”
Martin is entering his fourth season at South Carolina.