Wow! It has been crazy these days huh! Lots of people have brought this theme up after the attack in the church in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday, June 17. You can read more about it on Charleston Attack. Well, I am talking about the Confederate Flag. But what is wrong with that flag? Some will say it is a symbol of respect, some will say it is a symbol of white supremacy, some will even compare it to the swastika used by the Nazis in Germany.
For many the Confederate flag is the emblem of racism and hatred dating back to the American Civil War 150 years ago. Several photographs have emerged of the gunman, Dylann Roof, holding it before he went on his murderous shooting spree. President Obama says “the Confederate flag belongs in a museum” yet just 180km away from the scene of the shootings, at the state house in Columbia, the Confederate Flag still flies. But what does the flag really stand for?
Before we go any further, I would like to share this video with you:
So, let us understand what this flag is all about according to Benjamin O’Keefe:
A century and a half ago, our nation faced a civil war. More than 620,000 Americans lost their lives at the hands of other Americans — nearly equal to the total number of American deaths in all other wars combined.1 What caused this senseless war? The fight for freedom for enslaved Black Americans — or for the Confederates of the South, the fight against it.
In 1860, seven Southern states decided to secede from the Union and form the Confederate States of America. They would later be joined by four other states. They were fighting to defend their “right” to continue to own the more than 3.5 MILLION African slaves of the South2, who performed unpaid and arduous labor for slave owners, many of whom owned large plantations. As Southerners fought and killed to defend slavery they did so under the battle flag of the Confederate Army, which we know today as the Confederate flag.
In that time — and to this day — there was a group of people who believed what Confederates described as “the great truth” that “the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.”
In 1860, it was displayed through white’s ownership of Blacks and through Blacks’ complete lack of human rights.
From 1890 to 1965, Jim Crow Laws made Blacks “separate but equal” in the eyes of the law. On Wednesday evening, Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white man, walked into Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and murdered nine innocent people for what, it has become evident, are the same white supremacist principles that the Confederates fired their own guns for in 1865 — the deep-seated belief that Blacks are inferior to whites.
1. Who, What, Why: How many soldiers died in the US Civil War? BBC World News, April 4, 2012
BBC World News
2. Facts about the Slave Trade and Slavery, The Gilder Lehrman Institute, Accessed June 19, 2015.
Facts About Slave Trade and Slavery
This is a excerpt by Benjamin O’Keefe found on Black Voices.
However, not all people think like that. You can see on the video what the student Byron Thomas, a 19-year-old freshman at the University of South Carolina Beaufort says: Click on The Blaze to read and watch it. I wonder what Rosa Parks or Angela Davis would think about that!
You can also watch a series of videos on CNN – Confederate Flag and understand what is happening is the U.S now. So what would you say? Is the flag a symbol of hate? Is it okay to raise and fly it? I am not the one to decide it. It is for you to do so.
Watch Sarah Churchwell, Professor of American studies at East Anglia University speaking to Victoria Derbyshire from BBC News.
Some flags of some southern states: You can see some similarity with the Confederates Flag:
Mr. Bernie Sanders, an American politician and the junior United States Senator from Vermont, speaks for himself about the Confederate Flag:
Lots still to be discussed and brought to table. You are welcome and so are your comments. Any words that might sound racist or full of hatred will not be accepted here. Thank you for your understanding.
This material has been selected, adapted, analyzed and put together by Rodrigo P. Honorato