In my research, I learned that the Confederate flag that is flown, worn, and put on license plates and t-shirts today was not even one of the three official flags of the Confederacy. Rather, it is a rectangular version of a flag flown by several Confederate Army units, including Robert E Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. I also learned that the flag was not used very much after the Civil War (except in events to commemorate fallen soldiers and on graves) until the Dixiecrat Party, a pro-segregationist party formally known as the States Rights Democratic Party, formed in 1948 in response to President Truman’s speech on civil rights and used the flag heavily in their unsuccessful campaigns. The flag was also taken up by their supporters and spread throughout the south, becoming widely used by everyday people, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the United Daughters of the Confederacy,various state and local governments in the South, and the KKK. The new version of the “Confederate flag” quickly became a widely used symbol of Southern pride and heritage on the eve of the centennial of the Civil War, which coincidentally coincided with black people’s audacious demands for equal rights.
Many argue that the Confederate flag is a display of heritage and display it proudly alongside the American flag on their t-shirts, private property, and pickup trucks. The Confederate flag is a part of the South’s history and important to our nation’s story, but the flag seen today is not that flag. Today’s version of the Confederate battle flag was resurrected with racist intentions or, at the very least, as a reminder of a time when one region of the United States declared itself a wholly different country because of disagreements stemming from slavery. If you make the statement that the South seceded based on states’ rights, you must also acknowledge which rights. These are, overwhelmingly, the rights they thought they had to own other human beings based solely on the color of their skin. Additionally, the states’ rights they argued for in the fifties and sixties, when a resurgence of the Confederate flag was seen, were the rights to have their own laws regarding segregation and voting policies. The rights of the states to establish their own laws is not more important than the equal rights of the people in the states, which is why I do not agree with the display of the Confederate flag on government property. Freedom of speech is an important part of America and one of our fundamental rights, so I do not believe that the government has the right to force people to stop flying the Confederate flag, but I do think that the flag should be taken down from government buildings and removed from state flags. The historical connotations of the flag in all of its versions make it more than worthy of a place in a museum, but also make it unfit for any official part of government.