#TBT: Chris Rock Proposes New South Carolina State Flag

By Sameer Rao Jun 25, 2015

The recently-reinvigorated debate over the presence of the Confederate flag in state flags or on government grounds has seemingly reached a turning point with the removal of the flag from Alabama capitol grounds and several major Southern politicians advocating for similar removals. 

Given this climate, we present this Throwback Thursday video from a 1999 episode of HBO’s "The Chris Rock Show," a highly-underrated talk-meets-sketch-meets-commentary show that arguably laid the confrontational and satirical groundwork for programs like "The Daily Show" and "Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell" (which Rock produced). In this bit, during another period of time where the South Carolina state flag was a topic of public controversy (at the time, the NAACP had organized a tourism boycott of the state), Rock journeyed to the state capitol to ask black and white residents what they thought of the flag before proposing several re-designs (including one of OJ Simpson sitting with a white woman, another saying "South Carolina is O.K.K.K., and another with a single Saltine cracker). Eventually, he was able to convince then-governor Jim Hodges to fly the best-crowdsourced design, a flag where the stars were replaced with the stars of the WB. 

Although many of the video’s cultural references are arguably dated, Rock’s satire is more relevant than it’s ever been. A few of our favorite moments include: 

  • Rock speaking on the last design with then-senator and prominent civil rights activist Robert Ford, with Ford looking at the WB Stars and saying, "I hate to say it, but I don’t know any of these folks." 
  • A white man not knowing who the Wu-Tang Clan were 
  • Rock asking a black woman, who had written then-senator and notorious segregationist Strom Thurmond about taking the flag down, "Didn’t he use to own slaves?" 

Check out the hilarious video above.