- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 5, 2005

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — If the bikini-clad duo of Crystal Hunt and Marquita Jackson were looking to draw attention, they succeeded. Wolf whistles and honking horns followed them down Myrtle Beach’s famed Ocean Boulevard.

Miss Hunt was wearing a red-white-and-blue Confederate battle flag wrap over her white two-piece; Mrs. Jackson, a bra bearing the familiar diagonal blue cross and white stars co-opted by the Ku Klux Klan.

You could say the two black women were thumbing their noses at the NAACP’s five-year-old boycott of South Carolina except for one thing: Neither of the 21-year-old North Carolina women had any idea there even was a boycott.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People started the boycott in 2000 to get the Confederate battle flag off the South Carolina Statehouse dome. That goal was achieved in July of that year, but the organization continued the sanctions when the flag was moved to a memorial on the Statehouse grounds — a place of honor the group feels the flag doesn’t deserve.

But judging from the columns of black motorcyclists zooming up and down the Grand Strand during the recent “Black Bike Week,” few are heeding the call. “I spend my money wherever I want to,” Mrs. Jackson, a stay-at-home mom from Fayetteville, N.C., said defiantly as she headed for the beach Memorial Day weekend. “They don’t give it to me.”

In the heady early days of the boycott, business and civic organizations canceled conventions at Palmetto State venues and pickets stood vigil at highway welcome centers. Perhaps the greatest coup came when the National Collegiate Athletic Association, under pressure from black coaches, declared a moratorium on scheduling new events in South Carolina or Mississippi, whose state flag incorporates the Confederate banner.

The NCAA moratorium still stands, and some presidential candidates campaigning in the state last year were careful to bring their own food and stay at supporters’ homes to avoid feeding the local economy. But the boycott has largely slipped from the public eye and out of most people’s minds.

“I’ll be honest with you, we no longer see any significant or measurable impact from that — haven’t since the flag came down,” said Marion Edmonds, spokesman for the Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism.

The NAACP insists the boycott is still having an effect. But hard numbers are difficult to come by.

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