A recent sign change at popular Statesboro bar RumRunners Plantation Room has created controversy in the Georgia Southern community.
The new sign features an emboldened version of the bar’s name that highlights “Plantation Room” instead of the name the bar is more commonly known by, RumRunners.
The second “A” in Plantation is depicted by two old Georgia state flags. The version of the flag has not officially been used by the state since 2001, and it features a Confederate battle flag. The silhouettes of two Civil War-era cannons point towards the center of the sign. Plantation Room has been open since 2005.
An online petition was created by GSU student Jordin Hall, senior psychology major, who was compelled to take action after seeing a picture of Plantation Room’s new sign on Twitter.
“After I saw it, I thought: ‘Something seriously needs to be done about this in Statesboro.’ I didn’t know how to start a petition, so I just started researching and looking into it. When I got home, I started one,” Hall said.
The sign creates a feeling of certain groups being unwelcome and that in a bigger sense, the new sign is saying no blacks allowed, Hall said.
“That one [RumRunners] is newer, and then these two rooms [Plantation Room] opened in ‘05. These two rooms were always called Plantation Room, that one was always called RumRunners. It’s two separate entities, but since we have the same owners, we just use both names,” Deven Bradford, general manager of RumRunners & Plantation Room, said.
The petition has gained traction on various social media outlets since Monday, and is currently well on its way to reaching the target number of signatures. The online platform that Hall used to create the petition, Change.org, will automatically send the signatures to the designated email once the number of signers reaches 1500.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the petition had 1320 signatures.
“They could feel like there are some positive connotations with the word ‘Plantation,’ but when you think about it, the negative connotations outweigh the positive, especially when you put Confederate flags and cannons behind it. Do you mean the plantation where we were forced to pick cotton? The plantation where we were beaten? The plantation where we were hung on trees? Of all the names to use, why Plantation Room?” Hall said.
When asked about the petition, Bradford said, “It’s been my sign for 10 years, it’s not changing.”
*Editor’s note: The above article was edited for inaccuracies. The original article misidentified the old Georgia flag as a Confederate flag. The George-Anne regrets this error.