Early on, when she challenged the white group for their symbol of hatred, a man who appeared to be a colored person came to her side and said that he had served in the military "to defend this flag".
"No you didn't, you struggled to defend a 50-star flag," Smith-Rayfield replied.
"I'm not going to argue with a colored man about this flag, it's stupid," she said as the man continued to vigorously defend the right of the white people to show the Confederate flag. When he said that she, not the racists, bothered people, Smith-Rayfield said about the Confederate flag: "It should bother everyone on this damn beach."
"There is a racist symbol of hatred right there. My question to you is: How relevant is this flag for you in this country today? You vote in elections with 50 stars on the flag. What does this flag have to do today? If you're not a racist, why are you holding this flag up? "
At some point Smith-Rayfield even offered to buy the towel from the group. He offered $ 20 and suggested that if it was really just a towel for her, it was a good deal for her, not a symbol. You didn't take it. Because it was obviously not just a towel for her. These people wanted attention, which is why they had only one of their towels on the fence. One of the racists once accused Smith-Rayfield of wanting attention, but they were clearly out there trying to draw attention to hatred.
Before Smith-Rayfield arrived on the beach, the Mayor of Evanston, Steve Hagerty, had seen reports of the flag being displayed, had gone and looked, and without seeing the reports, declared the reports as fake news. He later admitted that it had actually been issued, but said a beach attendant asked her to remove the flag. After Smith-Rayfield's video spread, he apologized and described it as "A great example of confronting hate. "Their courage and persistence are admirable and an example for all of us."
Even after Smith-Rayfield left the beach, a group of demonstrators with Black Lives Matter signs arrived and stayed until the racists left. A rally against racism is scheduled for July 31 at 2 p.m. ET at Lighthouse Beach in Evanston, Illinois.
But this video is wonderful as an example of courage and terrible at the same time, because you can absolutely hear the tribute the encounter takes for Smith-Rayfield, a teacher and a mother of four, and for me a friend of high school. She is strong, but her voice breaks. She struggles not to scream or swear or do anything that would make her an unreasonable person in the encounter – something that she was accused of in hateful comments. And what you only see at the end of the video is that she was accompanied by her teenage children.
This type of steadfastness should not be required of people to maintain their basic humanity and right to enjoy their neighborhood beach without being confronted with symbols of their ancestors' enslavement. This kind of serenity shouldn't be necessary in the face of sluggish, complacent bigotry like the white beach goers. And as she said when a white viewer apologized to her when she left, "I don't need an excuse, I need action."
Nobody was physically injured. Nobody was arrested for the crime of blackness. But this act of racism still hurt people.