FLORENCE, S.C. – Florence will host a film premiere next Tuesday.
“Downing of a Flag” will premiere locally from 6 to 8 p.m. next Tuesday at the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center, located at 201 S. Dargan St.
S.C. Rep. Terry Alexander, a Democrat whose district includes parts of Florence and Darlington counties, served as a producer of the film.
Alexander said he was very excited to bring the premiere to Florence. He added that work for the film began in 2019 and involved approximately 45 or 50 hours of interviews. He said the film wanted to tell both sides of the story of the Confederate Battle Flag and that he hoped it would lead to a conversation that the country needs to have.
He added that the film debuted last week in Chicago and will be shown in 85% of the PBS markets in the country. He said the film was one of the most anticipated documentary films to debut on PBS in several years.
Alexander will be joined by director Scott Galloway, retired Francis Marion University director of student affairs Joe Hayward and former S.C. Sen. Kay Patterson for a panel discussion that will be moderated by SCETV’s Beryl Dakers.
Florence Mayor Teresa Myers Ervin also is scheduled to make remarks during the screening event.
The film tells the story of South Carolina’s history with the Confederate Battle Flag.
The battle flag was developed after the First Battle of Manassas (also known as the Battle of Bull Run to Union forces) when a Confederate general found it was difficult for troops to tell the Confederate and Union flags apart at a distance. Thus, the familiar flag became the battle flag of Northern Virginia and was eventually featured in two different iterations of the Confederate flag.
The modern display of the flag grew in prominence after a split in the Democratic Party resulted in the creation of the Dixiecrats. The Dixiecrats used the flag as a symbol to unite their supporters around the idea that the Union and the northern members of the Democratic Party wanted to change the racial status quo of the South.
In South Carolina, the battle flag was placed on top of the Statehouse dome on April 11, 1961 at the request of a state representative. In 2000, during the administration of Democrat Jim Hodges, the General Assembly voted to move the flag from the top of the Statehouse dome to a monument in front from the Statehouse.
The battle flag was removed from the grounds of the Statehouse in 2015 after S.C. Sen. Clementa Pickney and eight of his parishioners were killed in a racially motivated shooting.
The first part of the film will debut at 9 p.m. Thursday on SCETV. The second part will air one week later.
Alexander said the Florence event probably will focus on the second part of the film.
Tickets for the premiere are free, but reservations are required. Reservations can be made at bit.ly/florencedoaf.