Heritage: the traditions, achievements, beliefs, ect., that are part of the history of a group or nation. The recent “debate” over the confederate flag is one that should have been over many years ago. There is no way that this symbol of extreme hate and ghastly times in our country’s history can be any part of the heritage that we want to preserve, celebrate or revere here in the United States of America.
The History of the Confederate Flag.
All of the history below was obtained from an article by NPR. Eleven states formed the Confederate States of America during the civil war. The Confederacy was lead by South Carolina, the first state that seceded from the Union. A speech from the Confederacy’s vice president, Alexander Stephens, when it was founded stated that the Confederacy’s cornerstone “rests upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery – subordination to the superior race – is his natural and normal condition”. They adopted three different flags, none of which are the flag that we recognize as the confederate flag today, but the present flag is based off of them. The flag today was first used in General Robert E Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.
The Confederate flag went through the following changes:
This flag was used as a symbol of Southern pride and heritage along with serving as a remembrance of Confederate soldiers (some of the 620,000 Americans who died) in the Civil War. As time went on and racism and segregation ran rampant in the United States, further dividing the nation, the flag became a “divisive and violent emblem of the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacist groups”.
According to NPR, and many other people throughout the states, the flag is currently used as a frequent emblem of modern white supremacist groups. The KKK received approval from South Carolina to hold a pro-Confederate flag rally set for July 18th.
Serious talk about removing the Confederate Flag from the South Carolina state grounds started after Dylann Roof shot and killed nine people, including a state senator, while at bible study at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church. Roof posted a manifesto (lastrodesian.com) online detailing his extreme racism and reasons for his actions along with two pictures. One with him in a jacket with a patch of the flag of the white supremacist state of Rhodesia and the other he posed with the Confederate Flag.
Confederate Based Legislation.
There have been many different bills proposed in the last months relating to changing holidays, language and flag use.
Alabama– SB 410 would now designate Confederate Memorial day as an unpaid holiday.
California- AJR 26 calls for the removal of the confederate flag and symbols. SB 539 builds on the existing law that prohibits the sale or display of the Battle Flag of the Confederacy by the State of California to also prohibit the use of the name associated with the Confederate States of America to name schools, government buildings, parks, roads and other state or local property.
Georgia- HB 50 to provide additional protection to state property; statues, monuments, plaques, banners and other commemorative symbols.
The Georgia state flag currently looks like this:
It used to look like this up until 2001.
Here are six other states that also sport confederacy symbols in their state flags.
Illinois – HR 0150 Recognizes the 150th anniversary of the Thirteenth Amendment on December 6, 2015 and honors all individuals involved in the fight against slavery, especially those who gave their lives in support of the enduring legacy of freedom enshrined in the Thirteenth Amendment.
New Jersey – AR 255 – Condemns official use of the Confederate flag, or elements thereof, in certain state monuments and flags; supports current efforts to omit references to Confederate flag. SR 135 calls for the permanent removal of Confederate flag from South Carolina statehouse grounds and banishment from public property in state.
South Carolina – Governor Nikki Haley signed a law on July 9th that removed the flag from state capital grounds. The S.C. House of Representatives voted 94 to 20 to take down the flag. H 3729 recognizes and honors the Men of Color who founded Aiken County in 1871 and to declare March 10, 2015 as “Aiken Founders Day in South Carolina”.
Texas – The Supreme Court recently ruled (Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans) that Texas did not violate the First Amendment with it refused to allow specialty license plates bearing the Confederate battle flag. HB 1242 – relating to replacing “Confederate Heroes Day” with “Civil War Remembrance Day” as a state holiday.
United States – HR 3007 – to amend title 38, United States Code, to prohibit the display of the Confederate battle flag in national cemeteries. The GOP abruptly canceled the vote on July 9th because they did not feel that the subject had gotten enough debate. H.Res. 344 which urges the discontinued use of the Confederate battle flag, “which represents pain, humiliation, torture and racial oppression”, in remembrance of the Emanuel 9.
There is no way that the Confederate flag has any place in the United States aside from museums. It is most certainly a part of our country’s history that fact is not up for debate. It is, however, nothing that should be celebrated and revered in a way that other items that contribute to heritage are. This flag demonstrates one of the worst times in our country’s history and since that time has been adapted by extreme hate groups to communicate their hate towards the Black community. It is time for the Confederate flag to be retired to museums so we can learn from our history, and keep moving forward.
Listen to Stephen Colbert’s live pod cast covering the removal of the flag from the South Carolina state capital grounds.