The Confederate flag is a well-recognized, international symbol of racism, slavery, hatred, murder and white supremacy. It should be outlawed, not just banned. It is a relic from a shameful and painful era of American history. If individuals so choose, fly it clearly over our objections. It's your right as Americans. But we believe all Americans should join in advocating its deletion from any publicly financed location. Those of you who are decendants of Confederate veterans may disagree with this position. And despite what many of you say, our position is NOT racist. This flag seems, to us, to be the symbol that many racist whites use as their banner. Not just the KKK but others. South Carolina put the flag over the statehouse in 1962 to show that the state opposed desegregation. The 100-year anniversary of the Civil War was simply an excuse. Georgia added the Confederate to its flag when Lester Maddox stood against desegregation. So let's be honest and stop trying to revise history.
This article was written in 1994. The problem it addresses is still very much with us. Mobilization 2/21 acknowledges that our policy on the Confederate flag is one that is undemocratic and possibly irrational. We would like all our readers to realize that the feelings that surface in the hearts and minds of some African people who observe the flag's display, especially in official capacities, is totally abhorrent because of the residual pain of slavery, racism and oppression we sufferred. Our ancestors would settle for nothing less in their expectations of us.
Many of you see heritage and pride when the Confederate flag is displayed. That may be a fair way of looking at the subject for you but not for us. Despite the common hype about not wanting to be told how to live by the North, the average Confederate solider fought for the right to maintain a way of life that included slavery. The net result of that is a very racist situation. And I concede, blacks fought for the South, too. I also concede that a small minority of black people owned slaves as well. That changes nothing. The system was racist and a few black participants does not make it something else.
It seems that much of the discussion around this issue is very highly inflamed and hate-filled. That is unfortunate. Black people are not soley focused on slavery as many charge. We are, however, very sensitive to any trend that reverses the progress that has been made to date. Acceptance of a symbol of the "Old South" like this flag is acceptance of all that goes with it. Whether those of you who claim "heritage" are willing to admit this or not, the "Old South" has baggage, very negative baggage from our viewpoint. We see white supremacy, lynching and black people being held down -- "in their places." And if you claim your ancestors did not fight to maintain this position of dominance over blacks, you need to reread your history. In my lifetime, I've seen first hand the virulent opposition and hatred whites have shown against the fight for racial equality. If you are willing to deny this very clear fact there is no hope for further discussion.
So please stop trying to rewrite history. The past is what it is. And ugly as that may be it cannot be changed by denial.
The Way I See It
By Jack Crawford
I suppose we should be grateful that the good white folks like William G. Carter (chairman of the SC Council of Conservative Citizens) of South Carolina gave us the King holiday, Black History Month, affirmative action, minority set-asides and a whole gerrymandered congressional district. Sammy Davis should rise from the dead and tap dance! How dare the Negroes suggest that that long-standing, well-known, international symbol of racism, exploitation, slavery and white supremacy, the Confederate flag be expunged from the scene. Why, they only fly it above the state house where the laws of South Carolina are made. (See LA Times, Sunday September 4, 1994, page 14.)
If Malcolm were alive today he would say in his most emphatic manner: "Why, this is INsane!" It is long past the time for compromise, discussion, negotiation or any other multisyllabic. The flag must go. There is nothing to discuss.
I am personally deeply disappointed in the position of the NAACP in backing down from Brother Chavis' position that a boycott will start if the flag isn't removed. Hell. it should be outlawed. (Of course I've had other disappointment from that crowd recently. Ben made a serious mistake but our enemies should not have been allowed to be successful with his removal. 'Nuff said.)
Let me offer a solution. Instead of suggesting that African people engage in a general economic boycott which would be inconvenient, why not focus on a guilty party, that is powerful and has the money to muster the forces to fix our problem. Coca-Cola flies the Georgia state flag at its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia which includes the Confederate battle flag. I'm insulted. African people all over the world are insulted. In fact, all people of good will are insulted. To forgive the insult, we demand that Coke organizes whatever means necessary to remove that symbol from all publicly-related flags; including the state flags of Alabama, Mississippi and of course Georgia. Furthermore, the flag must be removed from the South Carolina state house immediately. In the interim, we'll drink Pepsi, Slice and Seven-UP. Maybe we can even start an African-American defense fund by drinking water and putting the money we normally spend on Coke into a pot to fight racism. (That may be asking too much.)
Believe me, it won’t take long. If we could just imply that people were shifting away from Coke because of an association with the Confederate flag there would be action. Everyone could participate. Whites, Jews, Asians, Hispanics and of course Africans. Everyone.
I really don't like saying this BUT just ask yourself about what would happen if some public, or for that matter, private entity had a swastika incorporated in their flag or logo. The organization would be blasted from the face of the earth, bankrupted or disgraced publicly. Please don't take this the wrong way, but we all know that Jews don't play dat. And our friends in the Jewish community play for keeps. They don't feel it necessary to discuss their survival. They will survive and if you get in their way, it's you or them. We should learn from them.
For those of you who insist the the war was about anything other than slavery, please read this: The Civil War Was About Slavery - Not Just Control
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