My government teacher always said to our class “To be educated, you must know both sides.”. Our society likes to listen to ourselves talk or hear our own echo in a cave without listening to the other side. This is evident in recent events especially throughout the south and old confederate cities like Atlanta, Georgia and Richmond, Virginia. Both were major cities of confederacy, where we can find monuments and shrines to ole south with statues of Confederate Men like Robert E. Lee or Jefferson Davis. Some perceive that the statues are symbols of hate and history of pain, and others as a symbols of one’s ancestors and heritage. Educating ourselves on the subject of the confederacy and their statues, we can better understand the meanings and why they can be so hurtful for many minorities particularly African-Americans.
As a native of Richmond, Virginia, I’m accustomed to hear from southern old white men and their descendent, “The flag and statues are symbols of heritage and not symbols of hate. My great-great granddaddy fought for the confederacy,” or “The flag represent state’s rights.”. Do they really represent heritage and state’s right, though?
One of the initial reasons for the start of Confederacy, was the argument of State vs Federal government. That can be dated back to the founding of The United State with Federalist vs Anti Federalist or Articles of Confederation. Many southerners still feel state’s right are more important than federal rights; that it should be state’s decisions to keep or throw away slavery, that the issue of civil war was more complex than most people thought. There were freed Black men, who agreed that it state rights were important. There were some famous Black regiments that belonged to the confederacy, who volunteered for The South. The 1st Louisiana Native Guard, an all colored and freed militia formed of 1,135 men from New Orleans, Louisiana, who fought for the confederate. That infantry can represent some African Americans’ ancestors also, not just caucasians’ ancestors. For more African Americans, the flag can be more hurtful rather than representation of ancestry.
My Grandma would talk about when she was kid, as she was growing up in the midst of segregation; when there was a cross burning or lynching you could find a confederate flag flying nearby. In Charlottesville, Virginia during the protest, the white supremacists were carrying confederate flags which should be a no brainer about how racist the flag can be. This is a present day example of a long racist history.
The initial start of the flag might have had innocent beginnings, but the flag turned into a symbol of hate and racism of time. The flag was and still used to represent various White Supremacist groups. Groups like; Ku Klux Klan, Alternative Right, Aryan Brotherhood, and Dixiecrats.
In the 1940’s, the Dixiecrats used the flag for representation of their group. The Dixiecrats were a segregationist political party that supported Jim Crow Laws and White Supremacy in the South. During the Civil rights movement, they would have counter protests against Civil rights leaders. The party was outspoken against President Harry S. Truman and his efforts for integration.
In Georgia, In 1956 the flag was redesigned in support of Segregation in the South. State legislators made this decision in protest to the Federal government’s effort of integrations in the South. The flag is a symbol of past of segregation and not of heritage now.
If a flag has been used for protest against equality and for racism then, how can it be used for heritage now?