If we’ve learned one thing over the past few years, it’s that our elected officials don’t always make the best decisions. In the latest case of “you can’t make this stuff up,” a South Carolina county councilor showed up to a March 4 community event in Greenville wearing an openly racist t-shirt and had the nerve to post a photo of him wearing the shirt on his Facebook page.
As reported by the herald, Greenville County Councilor Lynn Ballard showed up to the event wearing a t-shirt with a Confederate flag, a motorcycle and a scantily clad woman. The words “used but not used” were written across the top of the shirt. If your blood isn’t boiling already, it’s important to note that the event was sponsored by Upstate Circle of Friends, a Greenville-based nonprofit that works primarily with black and Hispanic youth. Upstate Circle of Friends was founded by Evelyn Deloris Pinson in 2006 to provide educational and recreational support to at-risk children and their families. Oh, did I forget to mention that Mrs. Pinson is a black woman with a black staff?
Bruce Wilson, a community activist who aspires to a seat in the South Carolina House of Representatives, is outraged and calls on Ballard to step down. Wilson says he became aware of the photo when a screenshot of Ballard’s message was shared with him. This led to him sharing his own screenshot directly from Ballard’s Facebook page with the rest of the Greenville County Council. As of this writing, none of the other board members have commented on the case.
Although he has no intention of quitting his post, Ballard has deleted the photo from his social media accounts. He issued a statement of excuses on March 11 after being pressured by community members to fix the issue.
“As a public official, I try never to upset anyone. I meant no disrespect to anyone on either side of the matter. I made a mistake. I admit the mistake I am sorry for my poor choice and promise to work hard to repair any damage my actions have caused.
But Bruce Wilson thinks Ballard’s apology is too little too late. While acknowledging that Ballard made efforts to support the black community, Wilson pointed out that her wardrobe choice was completely tone-deaf. Not only is the Confederate flag an offensive symbol to black residents of Greenville, but the half-dressed woman in the image is inappropriate at an event for children.
After calling on Ballard to issue a public apology to the community, the Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a declaration in response to his apologies. The organization called for the removal of Confederate flags nationwide.
“We welcome Mr. Ballard’s public apology and urge elected officials and community leaders across the country to follow his lead in finally acknowledging the negative impact these symbols of systemic racism and white supremacy have on our society.”
Lynn Ballard was elected to the Greenville County Council in 2014 to represent the southern and western regions of the county. African Americans consist 18.4% of the population of the county.