Flags of the Confederate States of America – We must never lose the history of the country when trying to correct an injustice. The injustice has to be solved by the will of the people – not a flag. You can burn it, you can hide it, you can put it in a museum; but, you cannot erase history!
Designed by William Porcher Miles, the chairman of the Flag and Seal committee, a now-popular variant of the Confederate flag was rejected as the national flag in 1861. It was instead adopted as a battle flag by the Army of Northern Virginia under General Lee.Despite never having historically represented the CSA as a country nor officially recognized as one of the national flags, it is commonly referred to as “the Confederate Flag” and has become a widely recognized symbol of the American south. It is also known as the rebel flag, Dixie flag, and Southern cross and is often[who?] incorrectly referred to as the “Stars and Bars” (the actual “Stars and Bars” is the first national flag, which used an entirely different design). The self-declared Confederate enclave of Town Line, New York, lacking a genuine Confederate flag, flew a version of this flag prior to its 1946 vote to ceremonially rejoin the Union.
During the first half of the 20th century, the Confederate flag enjoyed renewed popularity. During World War II some U.S. military units with Southern nicknames, or made up largely of Southerners, made the flag their unofficial emblem. The USS Columbia flew a Confederate Navy Ensign as a battle flag throughout combat in the South Pacific in World War II. This was done in honor of Columbia, the ship’s namesake and the capital city of South Carolina, the first state to secede from the Union. Some soldiers carried Confederate flags into battle. After the Battle of Okinawa a Confederate flag was raised over Shuri Castle by a Marine from the self-styled “Rebel Company” (Company A of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines). It was visible for miles and was taken down after three days on the orders of General Simon B. Buckner, Jr. (son of Confederate general Simon Buckner, Sr.), who stated that it was inappropriate as “Americans from all over are involved in this battle”. It was replaced with the regulation, 48-star flag of the United States. By the end of World War II, the use of the Confederate flag in the military was rare. The 1979–1985 American television series The Dukes of Hazzard, set in a fictional Georgia county, featured the General Leestock car with a prominently displayed Confederate naval jack on its roof throughout the series’ run. In the 1994 movie, Forrest Gump, a Confederate flag can be seen at a US Army camp in Vietnam.
The Confederate flag is a controversial symbol for many Americans today. A 2011 Pew Research poll revealed that 30% of Americans have a “negative reaction” when “they see the Confederate flag displayed.” According to the same poll, 9% of Americans have a positive reaction. A majority (58%) have no reaction. In a 2013 YouGov poll, a plurality (38%) of those polled disapproved of displaying the flag in public places. In the same poll, a plurality (44%) of those asked viewed the flag as a symbol of racism, with 24% viewing it as exclusively racist and 20% viewing it as both racist and symbolic of pride in the region.]
In Georgia, the Confederate battle flag was reintroduced as an element of the state flag in 1956, just two years after the Supreme Court decision Brown v Board of Education. It was considered by many to be a protest against school desegregation. It was also raised at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) during protests against integration of schools.
Supporters of the flag’s continued usage view it as a symbol of Southern ancestry and heritage as well as representing a distinct and independent cultural tradition of the Southern United States from the rest of the country. Some groups use the “southern cross” as one of the symbols associated with their organizations, including groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. For other supporters, the flag represents only a past era of southern sovereignty. Some historical societies such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy also use the flag as part of their symbols. Some rockabilly fans hold the battle flag as their emblem as well.
As a result of these varying perceptions, there have been a number of political controversies surrounding the use of the Confederate battle flag in Southern state flags, at sporting events, at Southern universities, and on public buildings. In their study of Confederate symbols in the contemporary Southern United States, the Southern political scientists James Michael Martinez, William Donald Richardson, and Ron McNinch-Su write:
The battle flag was never adopted by the Confederate Congress, never flew over any state capitols during the Confederacy, and was never officially used by Confederate veterans’ groups. The flag probably would have been relegated to Civil War museums if it had not been resurrected by the resurgent KKK and used by Southern Dixiecrats during the 1948 presidential election.
Southern historian Gordon Rhea further wrote in 2011 that:
It is no accident that Confederate symbols have been the mainstay of white supremacist organizations, from the Ku Klux Klan to the skinheads. They did not appropriate the Confederate battle flag simply because it was pretty. They picked it because it was the flag of a nation dedicated to their ideals: ‘that the negro is not equal to the white man‘. The Confederate flag, we are told, represents heritage, not hate. But why should we celebrate a heritage grounded in hate, a heritage whose self-avowed reason for existence was the exploitation and debasement of a sizeable segment of its population?
Symbols of the Confederacy remain a contentious issue across the United States and their civic placement has been debated vigorously in many southern U.S. state legislatures since the 1990s, such as Georgia. Supporters have labeled attempts to display the flag as an exercise of free speech in response to bans in some schools and universities, but have not always been successful in court when attempting to use this justification.
Display at South Carolina’s state capitol
On April 12, 2000, the South Carolina State Senate passed a bill to remove the Confederate flag from the top of the State House dome by a majority vote of 36 to 7. (The flag had originally been placed on the dome in 1961.) “…[T]he new bill specified that a more traditional version of the battle flag would be flown in front of the Capitol next to a monument honoring fallen Confederate soldiers.” The bill also passed the state’s House of Representatives, but not without some difficulty. On May 18, 2000, after the bill was modified to ensure that the height of the flag’s new pole would be 30 feet (9 m), it was passed by a majority of 66 to 43. GovernorJim Hodges signed the bill into law five days later after it passed the state Senate. On July 1, 2000 the flag was removed from atop the State House by two students (one white and one black) from The Citadel; a more historically accurate Confederate battle flag was then raised on a 30-foot pole on the front lawn of the Capitol next to a slightly taller monument honoring Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War. Current state law prohibits the flag’s removal from the State House grounds without additional legislation.
In 2005, two Western Carolina University researchers found that 74% of African-Americans polled favored removing the flag from the South Carolina State House altogether. The NAACP and other civil rights groups have attacked the flag’s continued presence at the state capitol. The NAACP maintains an official economic boycott of South Carolina, citing its continued display of the battle flag on its State House grounds, despite an initial agreement to call off the boycott after it was removed from the State House dome.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has prevented South Carolina from hosting any championship sporting events in which the sites are determined in advance. This NCAA ban on post-season championships in South Carolina has been strictly enforced, with the exception of HBCUBenedict College. In both 2007 and 2009, the school hosted the post-season Pioneer Bowl game, in violation of the NCAA ban, though no action was taken. On April 14, 2007, Steve Spurrier, coach of the University of South Carolina football team, made an acceptance speech for a community service award in which he referred to the flag on the State House grounds as “that damn flag.” This statement was also inspired by the actions of, as Spurrier said, “some clown” who waved the battle flag while being videotaped for SportsCenter. On July 6, 2009, the Atlantic Coast Conference announced a decision to move three future baseball tournaments out of South Carolina citing miscommunications with the NAACP concerning the display of the Confederate flag in the state.
Following the Charleston church shooting in 2015, many commentators questioned the continued display of the flag at the memorial on the state house grounds. On June 22, Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, called for the flag to be removed from the grounds. IT STILL HAS TO BE VOTED ON BEFORE IT IS REMOVED.