News Story

NAACP: Historical 13-Star Flag Associated With 'Racial Supremacy' Groups

Betsy Ross flag appropriated by 'Patriot Movement and other militia groups'

The president of the NAACP Greater Grand Rapids Branch said that students who brought a Donald Trump for president banner and a ‘Betsy Ross’ 13-star flag to a local high school football game were involved in “intentional actions of intimidation and rooted in no agenda other than to insult, to injure, and to incite.”

Cle J. Jackson, the president of the NAACP Greater Grand Rapids Branch, said the Betsy Ross 13-star flag has been appropriated by “the so-called ‘Patriot Movement’ and other militia groups who are responding to America’s increasing diversity with opposition and racial supremacy.”

At a Sept. 9 football game at Houseman Field between Forest Hills Center and Ottawa Hills, some students brought the Trump banner as well as the 13-star Betsy Ross flag. According to data collected by the state, in 2015-16, Forest Hills School District’s student population was 81 percent white while in Grand Rapids schools just 23 percent of the students are white.

Jackson made the statement Wednesday after a request from Michigan Capitol Confidential for comment.

“From Pennsylvania to Missouri, and other states and parts of Michigan, the ‘Field of Play’ activities that should be the home of sportsmanship have become home to racial taunts such as blackface, displays of nooses and now supposedly covert actions,” Jackson said in his statement. “Celebrating flags co-opted by exclusionary movements, held next to political banners of a presidential candidate who has offended people of color and immigrants, and accompanied by chants of ‘Go home’ by some students at a majority White school to players at a predominantly African-American school are not coincidences by unaware students. They are intentional actions of intimidation and rooted in no agenda other than to insult, to injure, and to incite.”

Jackson continued: “In the current sociopolitical environment, we are not surprised by such activities. At the same time, in keeping with our mission, we are not silent in the face of intimidation whether at the ballot box or the ballgame. We applaud our community, especially our young people -- of all races -- who did not react in any way expected. As we've always done, we stood our ground, and played our own game.”

Jackson compared the reactions to the event to responses to San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has refused to stand during the playing of the national anthem during NFL games saying he refuses to show pride in a country that “oppresses black people and people of color

“As a civil rights and advocacy organization, we also speak out against double-standards. Therefore, we clearly request that those in our community who dismiss this local incident while denigrating a football player who ‘takes a knee’ during the National Anthem to raise awareness of racial inequity, will recognize the bias preventing them from seeing hostility against young people of color,” Jackson said. “Left unchecked, those actions at the game may fuel tomorrow’s hiring, health care and law enforcement attitudes and decisions of the next generation coming from schools such as Forest Hills Central.”

Click here to see the NAACP’s full statement.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.