SC councilman wears Confederate flag shirt to Black and Hispanic youth event

A community activist has called for a Greenville County councilman’s resignation after he showed up in a t-shirt with a Confederate flag on it to an event sponsored by a group that works primarily with Black and Hispanic young people.

Several others have said they want Councilman Lynn Ballard to apologize.

The shirt said “used but not used up” and featured a man, a scantily-clad woman and a motorcycle with a Confederate flag behind them.

Ballard was attending an event last Friday for the nonprofit Upstate Circle of Friends and was photographed with the organization’s executive officer George Singleton, who is Black.

Ballard posted it on his Facebook page.

Bruce Wilson, a community activist who is seeking a state House of Representatives seat, said after he was sent a screenshot of the post, he checked Ballard’s Facebook page and then sent his own screenshot to other members of Greenville County Council.

Wilson said Tuesday he has not heard from any of them.

Ballard has since deleted the photo. Asked about the photo, Ballard said in an email, “I will address this from the dias,” referring to next council meeting, March 15.

Wilson said too much time had passed since he asked for Ballard to apologize. Now he thinks Ballard should resign.

“Why would you apologize to the county council and not apologize to the community,” Wilson said.

Wilson praised the work Ballard has done for the Black community.

“But that doesn’t give you the right to disrespect the Black community,” he said.

Wilson also said he has heard people express outrage over the image of the woman on the shirt, especially when attending an event for children.

Singleton did not answer a message seeking comment, but Wilson said Ballard should apologize. Wilson said Singleton told him he did not notice the image on the shirt at the event.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a news release Tuesday asking Ballard for a public apology.

“Even if council member Ballard did not realize that his shirt included an image of the Confederate flag, he should still publicly apologize for the discomfort and offense that the flag of treason and white supremacy caused for those participating in the event,” said Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR national Communications director.

First elected to the council in 2014, Ballard represents the southern and part of the western areas of Greenville County. A chemist, Ballard worked for a chemical company for 25 years and then as a rural mail carrier. His wife died of a COVID-related illness last year.