Over the course of the last week what I have always considered a flag of the South, of our heritage, of Southern Pride, of innocent Rebellion has taken me on quite a path of discovery and awakening. To me it had nothing to do with anything other than proud of being from the South. I came across this article from The Alantic that expained it very well. Please read it. It covers a lot that I pondered over and questioned and had a hard time understanding. Especially the social aspect of the flag in different forms of media.
This from NPR sums up a quick history.
‘In December 1860, South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union just months after Abraham Lincoln, from the anti-slavery Republican Party, was elected president. In April 1861, the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, S.C.
Ten other states would eventually follow South Carolina in secession, forming the Confederate States of America. However, of the three flags the Confederacy would go on to adopt, none are the Confederate flag that is traditionally recognized today. The “Stars and Bars” flag, currently the subject of controversy, was actually the battle flag of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.
After the war ended, the symbol became a source of Southern pride and heritage, as well as a remembrance of Confederate soldiers who died in battle. But as racism and segregation gripped the nation in the century following, it became a divisive and violent emblem of the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacist groups. It was also the symbol of the States’ Rights Democratic Party, or “Dixiecrats,” that formed in 1948 to oppose civil-rights platforms of the Democratic Party. Then-South Carolina Gov. Strom Thurmond was the splinter group’s nominee for president that same year; he won 39 electoral votes.
Now, the flag is a frequent emblem of modern white supremacist groups. The alleged Charleston shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, was photographed holding the Confederate flag in images on his website. Not all southerners, who believe the flag should be flown, however, see it as a racist symbol. They see it, instead, as a symbol of southern pride or as a way to remember ancestors who fought in the Civil War.’
What I have learned hurts me greatly. What I thought was an symbol of Southern heritage was taken and turned into an emblem of white supremacisim. That I now understand. And I understand why it should be removed.