ELYRIA — The Fair-minded Coalition of Lorain County said it’s not going anywhere until the sale of the Confederate flag at the Lorain County Fair is banned.
The coalition held a rally in Ely Square in downtown Elyria on Wednesday afternoon to discuss what it aims to do to continue to raise awareness of its cause.
“The fact is the fair continues to ignore what a sizable population of this county wants,” Jeanine Donaldson, the executive director of the Elyria and Lorain YWCAs, said. “By ignore, I mean they continue to sell the flag. First the county commissioners asked them to stop, and they said no. The state of Ohio fair board asked them to stop, and they said no. Our coalition got together in 2015, and they told us no.”
Donaldson, who heads the Fair-minded Coalition, was joined by community leaders from Elyria, Lorain and other parts of the county.
“We will not give up,” Elyria Councilwoman Brenda Davis, D-2nd Ward, said. “We will continue to move forward to make sure that our county is represented well. I was at the state fair; nowhere did I see a Confederate flag being sold at our state fair. Why is it being sold in our county fair?”
Lorain County Democratic Party Chairman Anthony Giardini agreed.
“Just because they have the First Amendment right to sell the Confederate flag doesn’t mean that it is right sell the Confederate flag,” he said. “That’s the part they seem to be missing. There’s a lot of things that, yes, I’m allowed to do, but they’re not the right thing to do.”
Lorain County Urban League President Frank Whitfield said he believes there must be a reason why people feel they have to sell the flag and welcomed a conversation with them.
“I think it’s important that we get underneath and find out why they want to sell this flag so bad,” Whitfield said. “Deep down inside, I can guarantee, it’s an issue of ‘I think I’m losing everything, and this is one thing I feel like I can hold on to.’ We need to let them know, there’s a lot more they can hold onto than that. If we work together, they’ll have a lot more to hold on to.”
In August 2015, the fair board was criticized by Lorain County Democrats for allowing the emblem of the Confederacy to be sold at the fair.
County Commissioner Matt Lundy, a Democrat, called on the Fair Board to ban the sale of the Confederate flag in 2015 calling it, at the time, “a symbol of hatred and division.”
An effort each year since to ban the sale of the flags has proved unsuccessful, but Giardini said the coalition isn’t going to give up its fight.
“We’re here this year,” he said. “We’re going to be here next year, if it’s necessary. We’ll be here every single year until our fair board gets fair-minded, like our organization.”
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