I am angry. Every morning during my commute to work, a giant Confederate flag greets me like a slap in the face at the junction of I-4 and I-75. This virulent symbol is a constant remainder of the South’s failed attempt to defend the unconscionable practice of slavery.
The Confederate flag is a powerful symbol of both slavery and segregation. When the South seceded from the Union to defend the institution of slavery, all slaves in the South came to fear the Confederate battle flag. To slaves, the flag represented the cruelty of the slave system and the idea of the indefinite bondage of human beings. The flag still carries this historical baggage and by 1948, the Dixiecrat party used it as a symbol to galvanize support for segregation. The flag has thus morphed into a potent symbol for slavery and oppression.
Some proponents of the flag argue that it merely represents heritage not hate; however, this statement is flawed considering the flag’s historical usage. It represents a racist call to the Old South in which both slavery and lynching’s were the norm. The Confederate flag is similar to the Nazi flag in that they both represent an evil past in which the hatred and subjection of a peoples was acceptable. Proponents of the flag merely appear to be couching their thinly-veiled prejudice behind the Confederate flag.
This flag is unacceptable in our society. Our country has made incredible strides towards healing some of the wounds from our checkered past. My drive to work reminds me that there is still much work that needs to be done to overcome our difficult heritage.
A version of this article was published on September 12, 2008 in the St. Pete Times:
And in the Tampa Tribune on September 13, 2008: