By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent
The Confederate Stamp Alliance is being roiled by an internal debate over the 80-year-old organization’s future.
Following the June 17 murders of nine people in a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., Richard F. Murphy, the organization’s president, questioned whether the group should continue to use the Confederate battle flag on its stationery.
That suggestion, made to the CSA’s board of trustees, has triggered an intense debate about dropping “Confederate” from the organization’s name and moving away from its focus on Confederate stamps and postal history.
Linn’s efforts to contact CSA president Murphy via email were not successful. Murphy lives in a Charleston suburb.
CSA Trustee Maurice Bursey of Chapel Hill, N.C., told Linn’s a committee is preparing a report on the questions for the CSA mid-year meeting Oct. 9-10.
“We are so appalled by what happened in Charleston,” said Bursey, a retired chemistry professor.
“We don’t want anything to do with the flag … [or] to give any more glory to that sick kid,” he said, referring to the 21-year-old white man charged with the murders.
“I made a statement to the rest of the trustees, if the flag stays, I go,” Bursey told Linn’s.
Other CSA members told Linn’s they are furious over what collector and dealer Chuck Hanselmann of Yorktown, Va., described as the efforts “of certain groups to dismantle the organization.”
“It is bizarre,” Hanselmann said, adding that CSA members are calling each other over the issue “screaming and yelling.”
“I would like to keep the society as it is,” said Brian Green, a Kernersville, N.C., collector who likes the focus on the Confederacy.
“This has nothing to do with philately,” he said, an apparent reference to the moves being made by political leaders in a number of states to remove Confederate symbols from places of public display.
“You can’t erase history,” Green said.
John L. Kimbrough, a Texas collector and CSA trustee, was one trustee who declined to be interviewed.
“I … do not wish to discuss the current situation of the CSA publicly because the officers and trustees of the organization have not as yet had a meeting.
“So as a trustee, it would not be appropriate for me to do so. Our next meeting will be in October. Any discussion at this time would be premature.”
Bursey said the move may cost CSA some members.
“We figure we’ll lose some die-hard members,” he said.
But he added that he expects it could gain members and make the resulting organization “more attractive to people who are opposed to the world ‘confederate.’ ”
“There will be a very, very long discussion in Asheville,” where the CSA’s mid-year meeting will be held, Bursey said.
He said he was uncertain how he would vote on reorganization of the alliance, but he did say he found “appealing” a name that would indicate that it wasn’t just for people who collect Confederate stamps and postal items.
One of dissidents noted that if the CSA should be dissolved its constitution calls for its assets to be given to the American Philatelic Society’s library in Bellefonte, Pa.
Since the CSA was founded in 1935, its purpose has been, as its constitution says, “to promote and to encourage the study of stamps and postal history of the Confederate States of America, to stimulate research and disseminate information with respect thereto and to foster good fellowship among its members.”