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NAACP President Kweisi Mfume should know better. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was martyred by the very people who wished to silence him by assassinating him. Decades after his death, he is still the most powerful symbol in the struggle for racial equality.

Like King, the Confederate flag is a powerful symbol representing the beliefs of many people. By focusing his attention on removing the symbol of these beliefs, Mfume has strengthened a rallying point that will only serve to divide the country more. He may be successful in forcing South Carolina to remove the flag, but he won't change the beliefs it represents. It is also likely that the removal of this one flag will result in many more being displayed at private businesses and homes.

Progress can only be made by changing people's minds about the imagined differences between the races and the insensitivity of flying a historical symbol that belongs in a museum. The people of South Carolina have to want to take down the flag, not be forced to. Only then can King's dream move forward.



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