Dodge County is generally known for its Heart of Georgia Regional Airport which is located just 3 miles east of Eastman. Plus, this county has been referred as the “Candy Capital of Georgia” due in part to the Stuckey Candy Company.
However, Dodge County is becoming an example of where Dixiecrat politicians are attempting to recreate an atmosphere that resembles the Jim Crow era prior to integration.
One of the symbols of that Jim Crow era and Dixiecrat politics is the 1956 version of the Georgia State Flag.
Even though the city of Eastman is only 55 miles southeast of Macon, one would think that this part of Georgia had received the proverbial memo that the Civil War is over.
However, local Dodge officials are trying to re-create the Jim Crow era by using their position as commissioners which is counterproductive for the community as a whole and disrespectful in particular to African-Americans who make up close to a third of Dodge County’s total population and close to 40% of the county’s most progressive city, Eastman.
Dodge County Commission Chairman Dan McCranie says he is looking forward to the the county having a legal fight over the Confederate flag being displayed at the Courthouse as part of a war memorial, but the NAACP and progressives of all races are willing to fight the decisions in court and also at the ballot box.
NAACP state officials had come to Eastman in early May and spoke in front otf the Dodge County Commisisoners and said the flag being flown in people’s yards or at their businesses is alright and had no qualms about it, but the Confederate stripes and stars being flown and flaunted at the Dodge County Courthouse everyday is wrong.
“This is public property; don’t impose it on individuals,” said John Battle, head of Dodge County’s NAACP chapter.
“Look at the lynchings and beatings and how they used that flag as a scare tactic,” he said, standing by a century-old Confederate monument. This is 2011, we shouldn’t be at this point.”
Mr. Battle is correct to say it is 2011 and one way to protest the Dodge County Commissioners is to hold them accountable at the ballot box.
In 2010, incumbent Brian Watkins of District 3 along newcomer Terry Niblett of District 2 won their election races and were instrumental in passing the Confederate flag ordiance.
The lone commissioner who didn’t vote for this measure was an African-American– Archie Dupree of District 4.
Will other African-Americans or progressive whites run for office and challenge the old guard in 2012?
Will the Dodge County Board of Commissioners face opposition in 2012 from a fellow Democrat, an independent or a write-in candidate?
Many local conservative Democrats or modern-day Dixiecrats often vote Republican in congressional races such as for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and even governor.
In 2008, John McCain won Dodge County with 67% of the popular vote and Barrack Obama garnered 32 percent of the vote.
Obama wasn’t able to win any of the 16 voting precincts in Dodge. However, the most progressive of all the county’s precincts is the Eastman’s “Lee” polling location which has the largest number of registered voters with approximately 5,000.
Currently, there is are approximately 10,000 registered voters in Dodge County.
Going to the ballot box is always an option, but also legally the area’s local and elected Superior Court judges may play a role in whether the confederate flag stays up.
Incidentally Sarah Wall, who won a three-way race in 2008 and Chief Judge Frederick Mullis who ran unopposed will be up for re-election in 2012. Additionally, local district Attorney Timothy Vaugh is up for re-election as well in 2012.
African-Americans make up one-third of Dodge, but these ‘elected’ Superior Court judges are part of the six-county Oconee Circuit which includes Bleckley, Dodge, Montgomery, Pulaski, Telfair and Wheeler.
So if the NAACP goes to court, Dodge County’s issue with the Confederate flag could be affected in the future by the voters of five additional counties in which their county seats of the Oconee Circuit are the following: Bleckley (Cochran) 42% African-American Dodge (Eastman) 38% African-American Montgomery (Mt. Vernon) 42% African-American Pulaski (Hawksinsville) 49% African-American Telfair (McRae) 43% African-American Wheeler (Alamo) 53% African-American.
The Confederate flag is considered a symbol of heritage for some in Dodge County, but a symbol of disrespect and contempt for others who are people of color along with progressive whites.
The Confederate flag is a tool for prejudice and racism and endorses an era when people of color had to live by Jim Crow laws daily along with being denied the right to vote.
The state and local NAACP along with the progressive citizens of all races in Dodge County have options in defeating this decision by Dan McCranie and his fellow Dixiecrat commissioners.