Finally, society and the free-market hold southern conservatives and Republican politicians accountable for expunging history.
The confederate flag has always been a divisive remnant in American history. It’s a reminder of the Deep South will to oppress black people as slaves, followed by black codes and Jim Crow laws. Yet, ask any supporter of the confederate flag, their story dismisses 200 years of slavery and 100 years of segregation. Instead they exude the stars and bars flag represents southern pride for the soldiers that fought to preserve the confederacy and state’s rights.
In the south, the Civil War is better known as the War of Northern Aggression. However, peel the surface back and investigate its history, the truth of the confederate flag is clear: It was created to preserve hate and has nothing to do with southern pride and absolutely is about the confederacy which profited from the forced labor of black people. It represents violent aggression, as well as, oppression. Its heritage is not brave, it promotes sin.
During slavery and Jim Crow, black people were taken from their mother land, raped, lynched, separated from their family and children, murdered, starved, lit on fire, assaulted with fire extinguishers, had crosses burnt in their front yards, and were segregated from white society. The confederate flag was ripe and prime in public life then, as it is now.
The creator of the battle flag William T. Thompson was absolute on its meaning, “As a people we are fighting [to] maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause,” and “As a national emblem, it is significant of our higher cause, the cause of a superior race, and a higher civilization contending against ignorance, infidelity, and barbarism. Another merit in the new flag is, that it bears no resemblance to the now infamous banner of the Yankee vandals.”
In George Wallace 1963 Inaugural Address, he spoke fiercely in favor of the confederacy, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” Democrat Governor Strom Thurmond once said, “Segregation in the South is honest, open and aboveboard. Of the two systems, or styles of segregation, the Northern and the Southern, there is no doubt whatever in my mind which is the better.”
The confederate flag has been the symbol in white supremacists meetings and protest, and has been prevalent in lynching and hangings of black people. For decades black folk have been asked to ignore the role of Dixiecrats. It’s shocking that only four years ago 30 percent of Americans had a negative view of the confederate flag in 2011. Not shockingly is, the majority of dissent came from black people.
Today, Black Americans–and with good reason–continue to dissent against the representation of the confederate flag – but unlike the lackluster 30 percent of the past, society has finally decided to join in the chorus black folks have always sung.
The outcry to remove the flag has been reignited due to the tragic Charleston shooting, at the hands of Dylann Roof, a white male who killed nine black people in church, charging them with racist rhetoric. Roof’s racist theories are well documented in photographs with the confederate flag and his white power manifesto. Disappointingly, racist apathy is well documented with our politicians too.
In 2011, Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina rejected the NAACP appeal to remove the confederate flag from government grounds. In 2014, still in defense of the flag, she said, “What I can tell you is over the last three and a half years, I spent a lot of my days on the phones with CEO’s and recruiting jobs to this state,” and “I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag.” Haley also believed no racism lingered because after all South Carolinian’s elected an Indian American. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina insisted the confederate flag is a part of our history that has a place in our public square. Democrat Jim Webb, a possible presidential presently concurs with Graham’s past statement.
Haley and Graham’s’ evasiveness, joined by many other Republicans and southern Democrats led to this moment: nine black people are dead due to a white vigilante, who loved the confederate and Rhodesian flag, and the heritage it represented: oppression, power, and greed.
Roof wanted to begin a race war, he has received the opposite.
Several retailers like Walmart and EBay will no longer sell the battle flag. Gov. Haley and Sen. Graham have reneged on their position, and have issued the removal of the confederate flag from government property. Alabama has taken down the flag. Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia has demanded the flag no longer be permitted on license plates. Dissent against the Mississippi flag is rising. Many other Republicans like Mitt Romney have reiterated the sentimentally of the public to “take down the flag.”
Of course racism is till prevalent in the United States, and although it’s a shame that innocent god-fearing black people were killed before American’s took a stand, finally the tide is turning.
P.S. Most citizens, including black citizens do not want the confederate flag whitewashed from society. It just shouldn’t be sponsored by the government is the grievance.
Quiana Fulton has a bachelors in political science. She lives in Virginia. Her website is is http://www.conservativeinblue.com and twitter handle is @BlackGrlPoli.