A day after South Carolina lowered the Confederate flag flying outside the Statehouse, the NAACP Board of Directors voted Saturday to end its 15-year economic boycott of the state.
The civil rights group introduced an emergency resolution at its annual convention this weekend in response to the removal of the flag from the state capitol.
The boycott began in 2000 in response to the state’s refusal to take the Confederate flag off the capitol grounds. The flag originally flew on top of the Statehouse dome starting in 1962, in a move seen as a protest against desegregation and civil rights. The flag was moved off the dome to a flagpole on the grounds as a compromise in 2000. But its presence at the state capitol continued to ignite protests.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which observed the boycott by refusing to allow South Carolina to host NCAA basketball championship games, will lift its ban in response to the lowering of the flag. “With this impending change, and consistent with our policy, South Carolina may bid to host future NCAA championships once the flag no longer flies at the State House grounds,” Kirk Schultz, president of Kansas State University and NCAA Board of Governors chair said ahead of the flag removal.
The United Auto Workers union also observed the boycott for the full 15 years. In the immediate aftermath of the flag controversy, the boycott took a toll on South Carolina’s reputation and economic growth. In the first few months after the NAACP first announced its decision to boycott, North Carolina saw an additional $2 million in extra business as consumers moved north, the Associated Press reported in 1999. Nearly a hundred conferences and group meetings planned for South Carolina immediately relocated as part of the backlash against the flag, while artists cancelled installations and tourism took a hit.