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The Voice of the Black Community

Life and Religion

Pride, hatred and the Rebel Flag
The Confederate Battle Flag means many things to different people
 
Published Thursday, April 4, 2013
by Michaela L. Duckett

Whether it’s on a bumper sticker, belt buckle, t-shirt or permanently etched in a tattoo, the Confederate battle flag is not an uncommon sight in the South.

To some, it represents Southern heritage. To others, it’s a symbol of hatred.

Keria Hill views the flag as a symbol of racism but said it does not offend her. She sees it as a part of life growing up in the South.

“I don’t really take it as personal as someone else might take it,” Hill said. “It really doesn’t bother me.”

Not everyone is as accepting.

Last week, a Confederate battle flag hanging inside the old State Capitol building to commemorate the Civil War’s sesquicentennial was taken down after protests by civil rights leaders.

Tom Dill, 22, said he personally saw no harm in hanging the Rebel flag. To him, it’s a symbol of pride in his Southern heritage.

“It’s not racist,” he said. “But I can understand why people may think that it’s a symbol of hatred or racism and stuff like that… I can understand where they are coming from, getting offended by it, but they shouldn’t be.”

In regards to the removal of the flag from the old capitol building in Raleigh, Dill said: “I don’t know if I’d say it was the right decision, but I guess it was a good decision just to please everyone so there’d be no trouble.”

Joy Rollins, 58, said the flag should have never been put up. She doesn’t believe it has any place in public setting, let alone a government building.

“It’s very degrading to me,” she said. “Growing up, I saw the lynchings and things during my day and time, and that’s what it’s meant to me.”

Rollins, who is bi-racial, becomes visibly shaken as she recalls growing up in Kansas City, Mo., and being afraid to visit relatives in the South. She recalled always having to walk with her eyes on the ground because she was afraid to make eye contact with a white person.

Her first memory of seeing a Confederate flag was at a restaurant.

“I was a little girl, and I wanted to go inside,” she said. ”We weren’t allowed, and there was a big flag in there up on the wall.”

Since that experience, she said the flag came to symbolize hatred.

“It symbolizes a (Ku Klux Klan) hood to me,” she said. “Most of those people that had that Confederate flag also had a hood. That’s just the way I feel.”

Jerome Johnson, 62, said the flag conjures up similar emotions. Johnson and his wife recently returned from a six-month stay in Texas to be with an ailing family member.

“I’m not going back to Texas no time soon,” he said. “They do not like us. They are flying Rebel flags and riding around in pickup trucks with guns in the back. And then, they are looking at us like we don’t belong.”

Johnson believes the Rebel flag is a symbol of deep-rooted racism.

“It’s still going on,” he said. “There is still hating, and it don’t make sense… It’s history and hatred. And it’s not going to go anywhere.”

Levine Museum of the New South historian Tom Hanchett said the Confederate flag is one symbol that means different things to different people.

“Folks who grew up in the South, mainly white southerners, look to it as a reminder of a war that they fought against outsiders,” he said. “To many African Americans, it is a reminder of slavery times, and more recently in the past 50 years it became a symbol of resistance against the civil rights movement. All different perspectives are indeed truly valid but balancing those perspectives becomes the difficult thing to do.”

What does the Confederate flag mean to you? Share your opinion below.

Comments

But Black History Month is about honoring people who made a difference in this world, not about hatred, fear, or the Civil War. I'm from MS, so of course I see the Confederate flag all the time. It doesn't bother me in general, but I do understand why for some it brings back horrible memories.
Posted on April 9, 2013
 
HERITAGE. My great great grandfather fought in the civil war in VA. He was a horse soldier.I have my flag on my truck,my arm, my garage wall.There is a black history month.People can make anything racial if they try hard enough.
Posted on April 9, 2013
 

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