The state flag and U.S. Flag fly above the State Capitol in Montgomery
By Alton Mitchell
Looking at the United States today the nation seems much more like it is stuck in the 1860’s once again. The country is divided much as it was leading up to the nation’s Civil War and the root of the division goes back to events started in the Civil War. In the wake of the June 17th shooting of the historical Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC a debate has surfaced in reference to the confederate flag being banned.
The shooting is believed to be racially motivated and the accused shooter Dylan Roof has been painted in a grim image as a strong white supremacist. Images of Roof have surfaced online and show him with known symbols of hate including the apartheid flag of South Africa in one image and the flag of Rhodesia which was also an apartheid state in southern Africa.
A historic marker in front of the Alabama State Capitol signifies when the American Flag was raised over the capital
Later photos surfaced of Roof displaying the Confederate flag and those sparked outrage among some. Many southern states still embrace their history associated with the Confederate flag and the Civil War. South Carolina was included in that preservation being that the state still displays the Confederate flag at its state capitol in Columbia.
Alabama had a similar display at the state capitol in Montgomery until June 24th. A total of four flags were removed from a memorial at the Capitol building. The flags had been at the local Capitol memorial since 1994 when then Governor Jim Folsom Jr. ordered the removal of the battle from atop the Capitol building where it had been since 1963. In the week following the removal of the flags protests have occurred at the Capitol in Montgomery. Governor Robert Bentley chose to remove the flags because he did not want them to become a distraction to bigger issues occuring in the state.
The issue of the Confederate flag is not new. In May a prominent attorney in Union Springs, Alabama admits to removing flags from the graves of soldiers at a Bullock County cemetery. The attorney and a family member removed those flags and took them to the City Hall in Union Springs for owners to claim. He argued to the media that his actions were not meant to spur hate, but rather to create unity.
Much as the attorney in Union Springs had an opinion many residents and officials have also developed opinions about this controversial topic.
“Allow individuals to freely fly the Confederate flag under the auspices of personal belief. As much as many may dispute the fact, it is protected as the freedom of speech. However, I would see it wholly necessary for government entities to completely abolish any likenesses of a Confederate flag from government institutions”, said Kel Boyd President of the Students of Political Awareness Association at Columbus State University in Georgia.
Edwin Hill a student at Auburn University had a differing opinion, “The flag does not support racism it supports freedom just as that of the United States flag does. In history some very dumb people have used it as a racial symbol, but it is more about heritage than hate or separation”.
Many individuals on social media blogs and outlets have been seen to mimic these arguments saying that the flag is not about hate, but about a cultural heritage much as certain groups whom were persecuted in the past have symbolic representations relevant to their groups. The Confederate battle flag is that representative to those whom have a sympathetic viewpoints to the Civil War and the respect deserved to be given to the veterans of that conflict.
Other viewpoints take a more extreme measure as some have argued it represents treason against the nation as a whole by glorifying the separation of certain states from the Union.
The state flag and U.S. Flag fly above the State Capitol in Montgomery.
(2) A historic marker in front of the Alabama State Capitol signifies when the American Flag was raised over the capital
(3) A view up Dexter Avenue toward the Capitol shows American Flags lining the street.