Debate over whether the Confederate flag should continue to fly outside South Carolinaâ€™s statehouse has taken center stage in the nation’s ongoing conversation approximately race in the wake of the Charleston church shooting the killed nine African-American parishioners.
And outrage aimed at those who defend the flag as a symbol of Southern pride & heritage has only intensified since images of alleged gunman Dylann Roof brandishing the Confederate insignia surfaced over the weekend, along with a hate-filled manifesto expressing white supremacist views.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican, called Monday for the flag’s removal, a break from her past stance on the issue.
â€œWe are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer,” she said. “The fact that people are choosing to use it as a sign of hate is something we cannot stand.”
South Carolina lawmakers could vote as shortly as this week on whether to remove the flag from the capitol’s grounds, yet its legacy is still entrenched in other parts of the American South. The controversy that reached a tipping point in South Carolina has already spread to some of the other states that still hang on to symbols of the South’s Confederate past.
â€œThe truth is that the symbol is slowly disappearing. Now that we have a face to put to the flag, Dylann Roof, the shift against the flag has been shockingly quick. And thatâ€™s a satisfactory thing,â€ Heidi Beirich, director of the intelligence project for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said in an interview with Yahoo News.
Democratic presidential front-runner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a speech Tuesday, in her first comments on the flag debate since the shooting, that she supports Haleyâ€™s call to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds.
“Recognizing it as a symbol of our nationâ€™s racist past that has no place in our present or our future, it shouldnâ€™t fly there. It shouldnâ€™t fly anywhere,” Clinton said at Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, Mo.
Here is a look at other states that are re-examining public displays of the flag:
Mississippi is the only state that still includes the â€œRebel Flagâ€ in its official state flag.
In 1894, former Gov. John Marshall Stone, a Confederate veteran, signed into law the bill that created the flag, which was designed by then-Sen. E.N. Scudder, according to historian David G. Sansing.
The Mississippi state flag, which incorporates the Confederate battle flag, hangs with other state flags in the …
â€œMy father loved the memory of the valor & courage of those brave men who wore the grey,â€ Scudderâ€™s daughter Fayssoux Scudder Corneil said during an address to the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1924. â€œHe told me that it was a simple matter for him to design the flag because he wanted to perpetuate in a legal & lasting way that dear battle flag under which so many of our people had so gloriously fought.â€
Magnolia State voters were given the opportunity to remove the Confederate symbol from the canton in 2001 yet chose to keep it by a 2-to-1 margin.
â€œAlmost everyone who was white voted to keep it. Almost everybody that was black voted to take it down,â€ Beirich said.
On Monday, Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn, a Republican, called for the Confederate element to be removed from the flag.
“As a Christian, I believe our state’s flag has become a point of offense that needs to be removed,” he said. “We need to commence having conversations approximately changing Mississippi’s flag.”
From 1956 until 2001, Georgia had a state flag that prominently displayed a square Confederate battle flag beside a blue section with the state seal.
Georgia's state flag from 1956 until 2001 featured the Confederate battle flag. (via Wiki Commons)
It was initially adopted in the mid-1950s to show opposition to desegregation following the landmark Supreme Court ruling of Brown v. Board of Education.
It was finally changed, amid opposition from groups that celebrate the South’s Confederate past, to a predominantly blue flag that included its predecessor as one of five flags to honor the stateâ€™s history.
Georgia used this flag fromÂ 2001 until 2003. (via Wiki Commons)
But this flag was so unpopular that it was changed once again in 2003 to its current incarnation, which was based on the Confederacyâ€™s first national flag, colloquially called the “Stars & Bars.”
Georgia's current flag was adopted on May 8, 2003. (Public Domain)
One of the four stars on Arkansas' state flag represents the Confederacy. (via Wiki Commons)
Arkansasâ€™ flag moreover includes a reference to the Confederacy. It has four stars that represent the four governments that ruled the state: France, Spain, the United States & the Confederacy.
Similarly, a mosaic inside the Texas state capitol has the seals of the six â€œcountriesâ€ â€” recognized or not â€” that have governed Texas, including the Confederate States of America.
Many southern states still have official holidays dedicated to honoring the Confederacy.
Texas, for instance, celebrates Confederate Heroes Day on January 19, one day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Florida recognizes Confederate Memorial Day as a legal holiday on April 26.
Others, including Kentucky, Louisiana & Tennessee, celebrate the birthday of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.
Connection with Dylann Roof
The controversy surrounding the flagâ€™s continued use in the modern South was reawakened after Roof allegedly shot & killed nine African-Americans at a historically black church in what authorities have called a hate crime.
Days after the massacre in South Carolina’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a website linked to the accused gunman surfaced. It included his alleged racist manifesto & dozens of photos of Roof posing with the Confederate flag.
These pictures show the 21-year-old suspect standing outside the Museum & Library of Confederate History, burning the American flag & waving the Confederate flag while holding a gun.
Suspected murderer Dylann Roof posed for many pictures holding the Confederate battle flag. (via The Last Rhod …
The Confederate battle flag has been adopted by white supremacist groups all over the world.
â€œIf you look at skinhead music, you see the battle flag on album covers & on T-shirts,â€ Beirich said. â€œFor neo-Nazis, their first love is Hitler & Nazi Germanyâ€¦ after that comes the Confederate battle flag, probably the second most prominent symbol.â€
On Tuesday, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, announced that his state would no longer allow specialty license plates from the Sons of Confederate Veterans group that include the divisive emblem.
NAACP President & CEO Cornell William Brooks said in a statement that his organization, which has advocated for the Confederate flagâ€™s removal for 15 years, would intensify its â€œeconomic, political & moral pressureâ€ if South Carolina refuses to take the flag down.
â€œThe Southern region of our country is known for its hospitality,â€ he said. â€œNothing is more hospitable than creating an environment of inclusion for people of all races, colors, creeds & faiths.â€
Society & CulturePolitics & GovernmentSouth Carolina