LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — One of the last places you could buy a Confederate battle flag in central Arkansas has decided to stop selling it.
The owner of FlagandBanner.com Kerry McCoy said the decision to stop selling them was not an easy one, but she feels it is the right thing to do.
“This is not an immediate quick decision that I just came to overnight,” McCoy said.
McCoy opened up FlagandBanner.com in Little Rock over forty years ago. She said she contemplated her decision to stop selling the flag for over five years.
"When I think about how I want people to view the south and how I want to be thought about, that does not represent us,” she said.
She said the Confederate Battle Flag has become too associated with hate groups today and lost its original meaning.
"My decision came when I continue to see it coupled with and on display at events, with the Nazi Flag and the Confederate Flag as a type of genocide,” McCoy said.
FlagandBanner.com’s storefront is in the first floor of Taborian Hall, located at 800 W. 9th Street.
"Ninth street was Arkansas' black business district. Before desegregation and before black people could shop on Main Street,” she said.
Taborian Hall also houses The Dreamland Ballroom on the third floor. It was a place for religious expression and entertainment in the African American community. McCoy said selling Confederate Flags in the building felt wrong.
“The juxtaposition between the third floor of this building and the first floor selling the Confederate Flag that’s been adopted by hate groups, the juxtaposition of those two, I felt like it was time. I felt like it was the right thing to do,” she said.
McCoy also started the Friends of Dreamland non-profit to preserve Taborian Hall’s Dreamland Ballroom. The non-profit received nearly half-million dollars last year to make The Dreamland Ballroom ADA accessible. The money came from the National Park Service, which aims to fund projects that preserve African American history. She said that grant weighed heavily on her decision.
“I’ve always wanted the Dreamland Ballroom to be something that united us. It’s a safe place for all of us. I’m all about healing this country, not dividing us,” McCoy said.
While McCoy's decision has created mixed reactions, she said she still has no desire to ever sell a Confederate battle item again.
"This is not about what the Confederate Flag meant then. It's about what the Confederate flag means now, which are two completely different things,” McCoy said.
McCoy said Confederate Civil War Flags like the Stars and Bars Flag are still available.