Keeping Up With the Confederate Heritage Retreat

There’s plenty of news today on the retreat of confederate heritage.

The only Black driver in the top stock car racing circuit, Bubba Wallace had led the campaign to ban Confederate flags from NASCAR events. Steve Helber/AP

First, from NASCAR we have this story that tells us some unknown cowardly racist scumbag left a noose in Bubba Wallace’s garage stall. “A noose — among the most threatening and resonant images from America’s long history of white racist violence — was left in the garage stall Sunday of NASCAR’s only Black driver in the Cup Series, its top stock car racing circuit. NASCAR said the incident took place at its racetrack in Talladega, Ala. The garage stall was assigned to Bubba Wallace, who had led the successful campaign to ban Confederate flags from NASCAR facilities and events, which went into effect earlier this month. In a statement, Wallace said, ‘Today’s despicable act of racism and hatred leaves me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and how persistent we must be in the fight against racism.’ NASCAR condemned the act: ‘We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act. We have launched an immediate investigation, and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport. As we have stated unequivocally, there is no place for racism in NASCAR, and this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all.’ The Justice Department announced Monday that it will be looking into the incident. ‘The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of Alabama, FBI and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division are reviewing the situation surrounding the noose that was found in Bubba Wallace’s garage to determine whether there are violations of federal law,’ Jay E. Town, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, said in a statement. ‘Regardless of whether federal charges can be brought, this type of action has no place in our society.’ ”

A vendor displays Confederate flags as well as Trump 2020 flags across from the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala., on Saturday. NASCAR has banned the Confederate flag from its facilities and events. John Bazemore/AP

In this story on the same issue we learn, “NASCAR said it had launched an immediate investigation and will do everything possible to find out who was responsible and ‘eliminate them from the sport.’ ” The article also tells us, “There weren’t any immediate reports of how many flags were confiscated or taken down at the track, if any — but the flag was present nearby. There were informal protests Saturday and Sunday alike, with cars and pickup trucks driving along nearby roads flying the flag and parading past the entrance to the superspeedway. A small plane flew overhead pulling a banner with the flag and the words ‘Defund NASCAR.’ NASCAR did not acknowledged the plane, though executive Steve O’Donnell tweeted a picture of black and white hands shaking with the words: ‘You won’t see a photo of a jackass flying a flag over the track here…but you will see this.’ Rapper Ice Cube tweeted about the plane saying, ‘(Expletive) him NASCAR, you got new fans in this household.’ Wallace, a 26-year-old Alabama native who drives the No. 43 for Richard Petty Motorsports, said he has found support among fellow drivers for his stance on the flag. He noted that after the noose announcement. ‘Over the last several weeks, I have been overwhelmed by the support from people across the NASCAR industry including other drivers and tea members in the garage,’ he said. ‘Together, our sport has made a commitment to driving real chance and championing a community that is accepting and welcoming of everyone. Nothing is more important and we will not be deterred by the reprehensible actions of those who seek to spread hate.’ ” The article concludes, “Directly across from the track, Ed Sugg’s merchandise tent was flying Confederate flags prominently in a display alongside Trump 2020 banners and an American flag. ‘They’re doing very well,’ said Sugg, a Helena, Alabama, resident who has been selling an array of wares at NASCAR races for 21 years. ‘People are disappointed that NASCAR has taken that stance. It’s been around for as long as all of us have been. I don’t think anybody really connects it to any kind of racism or anything,’ he said. ‘It’s just a Southern thing. It’s transparent. It’s just a heritage thing.’ ” The noose incident shows that statement is a lie. Take away their confederate flag and they’ll express their racism in other ways. Besides, that statement itself betrays the racism behind it. “It’s just a Southern thing” excludes African Americans from being considered “southern.” It’s also inaccurate because it excludes white southerners who abhor the confederacy from being considered “southern.” It’s not their heritage. You can see the NASCAR response to the incident here.

More proof confederate flag displayers are racists is here.

From Macon, Georgia, we have this story about local artists putting up a “Block the Hate” mural around the town’s confederate monument. “The statue of an anonymous Civil War soldier was defaced earlier this week after the Tubman Museum and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard signs were vandalized. The #BlockTheHate event happened on Juneteenth to celebrate unity and reclaim the area currently occupied by the statue, according to the Facebook event. Juneteenth celebrates the abolition of slavery in the U.S. and dates back to June 19, 1865 when Union Gen. Gordon Ranger read a proclamation in Galveston, Texas declaring the end of the Civil War and freedom for slaves. The installation protects the statue from future attempts to deface it because that costs the city money, but it also represents a message of love, Ponce said. ‘A lot of times people use these statues to show hate, to show maybe a distaste for people, or maybe Oh, I would like to have a prideful moment in those past times not realizing that those same past times are extremely disrespectful to people’s elders in this community,’ she said. ‘We need people to know that love conquers all.’ The installation has been approved by the city through a permit and by an executive order from Mayor Robert Reichert through June 23 with the ability to extend the order, according to a news release.”

This story tells us police drove off protesters who had put ropes around the JEB Stuart monument on Richmond’s Monument Avenue in an attempt to pull it down. “Police descended on Stuart Circle just before 9:30 p.m. Sunday to intercede after protesters tied ropes around the J.E.B Stuart statue, a tribute to the Confederate general near the heart of Richmond, in an effort to bring it down. Officers in riot gear shouted down people yelling ‘F*** the police,’ declaring the gathering an unlawful assembly and threatening to deploy chemical agents. Protesters in Richmond and across the country have toppled icons they say embody white supremacy and oppression during a wave of unrest over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd last month. Five statues in Richmond have been pulled down over the last three weeks. At around 9:20 p.m., the Richmond Police Department sent out a message via Twitter that the assembly at the Stuart monument, which is at the intersection of Monument Avenue and Stuart Circle near downtown, was deemed unlawful. The crowd chanted back, ‘We’re not leaving.’ Just before 10 p.m., a line of officers in riot gear marched toward the statue. Minutes later they encircled the statue, blocking off all sides of the monument. RPD tweeted around 10:10 p.m. the reason for the declaration: ‘The Unlawful Assembly was declared earlier due to protesters attempting to pull down the J.E.B. Stuart statue with rope, which could have caused serious injuries.’ As a police helicopter flew overhead, officers continued to move up Monument pushing protesters back toward the Robert E. Lee monument, which has become the epicenter for protesters and their supporters for the past three weeks. The Richmond Police Department announced on Friday night that it ‘has the authority to declare protests that become violent, dangerous or disruptive as unlawful assemblies’ under Virginia Code ~VA 18.2 -406. This gives police the authority to make arrests if a crowd fails to disperse. Richmond’s interim police chief William ‘Jody’ Blackwell said Friday that he’s instructed his officers to ‘make every effort to support each citizen’s First Amendment right to express their opinion. … But, some protesters actions put everyone at risk and we must address that.’ According to RPD, when the decision is made to declare something an unlawful assembly, the following will happen: Repeated announcements will be made by bullhorn to alert everyone it is time to leave. That message will say: ‘This is been deemed an unlawful assembly. Please disperse. Failure to disperse will result in arrest and/or exposure to chemical agents.’ The tribute to Stuart, a Confederate general during the Civil War who was born in Patrick County, was Monument Avenue’s second statue, erected in 1907.” In an update on this article we learn, “Richmond City Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch, who represents the 5th District, said in a tweet after midnight Monday morning that she and 9th District council member Michael Jones are calling for immediate removal of the monuments for ‘public safety reasons.’ ”

The Confederate War Memorial is seen at Pioneer Park on Saturday, June 13, 2020 in Dallas. A state appeals court has granted a request from the City of Dallas to immediately remove the statue from the park. The city had planned to remove the statue in February 2019, but was sued by a group called Return to Lee Park, led by former City Council candidate Warren Johnson, to keep the 65-foot obelisk in place.(Ryan Michalesko / Staff Photographer)

This story from Dallas, Texas, reports on preparations to remove the confederate memorial in the city’s Pioneer Park. “Dallas city officials on Monday said they’ve secured a vendor to remove the Confederate monument in the Pioneer Park cemetery, but the process will take about two months and cost an estimated $396,000. The sculpture will be disassembled, then stored and archived at Hensley Field, said Jennifer Scripps, the city’s director of the Office of Arts and Culture. The Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals in Dallas on Saturday granted the city’s request to remove the 65-foot obelisk near City Hall and the downtown convention center. A city attorney told the court he feared the sculpture could endanger lives if it gets toppled by protesters. The city’s request to remove the Confederate war memorial follows weeks of protests over police violence and racial injustices against black communities. The monument in Pioneer Park features a soldier surrounded by Confederate President Jefferson Davis and three generals: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Albert Sidney Johnston. … The court’s approval to remove Dallas’ memorial comes more than a year after the Dallas City Council voted to take it out of public view, with funding of up to $480,000. The court blocked the city based on a lawsuit filed by Return to Lee Park, a group led by former council candidate Warren Johnson. The vendor will arrange delivery of equipment needed to disassemble the monument in 10 days, according to the city.”

Photo by Ken Lund | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

In this story out of Phoenix, Arizona, we learn the first capitol monument in Arizona was to confederate soldiers. “The Arizona Department of Administration is looking into what kind of process may be needed to remove a monument to Confederate soldiers at the state Capitol, but state law leaves the decision up to the agency’s director, and, by inference, his boss, Gov. Doug Ducey. For years, critics have sought to have the monument removed from the Capitol. Crowds of people protesting the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed by a Minneapolis police officer in late May, thronged around the monument, demanding its removal. And on Friday, a man threw red paint on the memorial in protest. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in a June 8 letter publicly called on ADOA Director Andy Tobin to move the monument from Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza. She wants Tobin to transfer the monument to the Arizona Capitol Museum, which her office oversees, so she can put it into storage. But Ducey has no plans to act. He isn’t ‘a fan of removing monuments or memorials, and certainly not because a letter was written,’ he told reporters this month. Instead, he said there should be a public process if the monument is going to be moved, and noted that there was a public process that allowed monuments to be built and placed on state land in the first place. That, he said, is something his administration will have to work on with legislative leadership. Whatever public process existed for erecting, altering or removing monuments ceased to exist in 2018, when lawmakers and Ducey eliminated the Legislative Governmental Mall Commission. That commission, which the legislature created in 1985, was responsible for reviewing and approving plans for monuments on the Capitol Mall. Legislative approval was required before a proposed monument could go before the commission. Now, once the legislature has approved a new monument, all authority resides with the Department of Administration, as does all authority over proposed changes. That includes the power to remove a monument from Wesley Bolin Plaza. Until 2018, the mall commission had to review and approve the removal or relocation of monuments before the Department of Administration could act on such proposals. ADOA has sole authority to make those decisions. In her letter to Tobin, Hobbs cited that statute, which says, ‘The department of administration may relocate monuments or memorials that are located in the governmental mall.’ Megan Rose, a spokeswoman for ADOA, said the agency is reviewing what process is needed for a monument to be removed. Under the old scheme, removing a monument would have required a vote by the governmental mall commission, said Barry Aarons, a lobbyist who served on the commission. From there, the matter would go to ADOA, which would make a final decision ‘with significant influence’ from the governor’s office. Under the current system, Aarons said the entire process rests with ADOA, with the governor presumably making the final call. ‘I think a decision like that, whether he wants it to or not, kind of resides in the governor’s lap right now,’ Aarons said. And despite Ducey’s declaration otherwise, there appears to have been little or no public process for putting up the Confederate monument in the first place.”

In discussing some of the history behind the monument, the article tells us, “The historical record regarding the first monument erected at the state Capitol is sparse. Planning for the monument garnered no news coverage, and it wasn’t mentioned in the pages of The Arizona Republic, the state’s newspaper of record, until the day before its unveiling on statehood day on Feb. 14, 1962. In its Feb. 13, 1962, edition, the Republic reported that president of the Arizona division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Mrs. Leo J. Gatlin—press coverage did not mention Gatlin’s first name—would preside over the monument’s dedication the following day, and that then-Secretary of State Wesley Bolin would speak at the ceremony. A photo in the Feb. 17 edition of the paper showed Gatlin and two other members of her organization posing in front of the monument wearing Civil War-era dress. The photo caption states that the monument, shaped like Arizona and made of copper and green-hued stone, cost $1,000, raised through voluntary contributions. The monument was dedicated to Confederate troops who fought in the Battle of Picacho Pass, the westernmost battle of the Civil War and the only battle to take place in what is now the state of Arizona. An inscription at the bottom on the monument reads, ‘A nation that forgets its past has no future.’ There is no record of the speech Bolin gave for the monument’s dedication. The Republic didn’t report his words, and the Secretary of State’s Office said there’s no copy of his speech in the state library and archives.”

In a textbook example of the lies behind confederate monuments, the article continues, “A proclamation that then-Gov. Paul Fannin issued for the monument’s dedication states that it was erected to honor Arizona’s Confederate troops during the Civil War, ‘who willingly gave their lives in defense of those principles of democratic government in which they believed; and may it ever stand as a memorial in honor of them and a reminder to us that the freedoms we enjoy were purchased and delivered to us at the cost of lives of others and that ‘a nation that forgets its past has no future.’ ‘ Neither the proclamation nor the monument mention the reason why the Confederate States of America seceded from the Union in the first place: to preserve and perpetuate slavery, an institution they believed faced an existential threat from the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.”

Photo by Tony the Marine | Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

The article continues, “At the time the monument went up, authority over the Capitol grounds rested with the Department of Public Buildings Maintenance, which the legislature created in 1960. The duties of the department’s superintendent included the ‘maintenance, alteration and renovation of the existing capitol buildings and grounds.’ Legislative records from the late 1950s and early 1960s show no vote to approve or authorize the monument, which was initially located in front of the Senate. State law now requires legislative approval before any monument can be placed at the Capitol, but that law wasn’t added to the books until 1995. Had there been a public process surrounding the monument, it likely would have generated little or no opposition, said Jon Talton, a Phoenix historian and former Republic columnist. While Confederate monuments today are controversial and deeply offensive to many Americans, particularly Black Americans descended from slaves, Talton said they simply weren’t a flash point in the 1960s. Black leaders and the city’s Back population were largely focused on other issues. ‘Black preachers and business leaders were relatively more prominent then, the Black population (I think) proportionately larger. Their emphasis was voting, better housing and schools, and more elective office,’ Talton told Arizona Mirror. When the monument went up, the civil rights movement in the United States was nearing its crescendo. That generated a lot of backlash among opponents, especially in the South, where white leaders clung to the Jim Crow laws that mandated strict segregation and white supremacy. As part of that backlash, civil rights foes across the country erected statues and monuments glorifying the Confederacy and its leaders. Though Arizona was a far cry from the Southern states, with their rigidly and often violently enforced white supremacy, it still had plenty of segregation and racism. Segregation in public accommodations was commonplace. Schools were segregated into the 1950s, with the state moving to end official segregation policies shortly before the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v Board of Education in 1954. Demonstrators marched against segregation in public accommodations and protested at the Capitol, near the Confederate monument that had only recently been installed. Talton said he does not believe Arizona’s Confederate monument was part of the civil rights backlash that erupted in other parts of the country. While the first half of the 1960s represented the height of the civil rights movement, it was also the centennial anniversary of the Civil War, fought from 1861-65. The United Daughters of the Confederacy said at the time that the monument was timed to coincide with the hundredth anniversary of when the southern half of what was then the New Mexico Territory—modern-day Arizona, New Mexico and southern Nevada—was declared a Confederate territory. The 100th anniversary of that declaration by Confederate President Jefferson Davis was also the 50th anniversary of Arizona’s statehood. Arizona’s status as a Confederate territory resulted in the Battle of Picacho Pass. The battle on April 15, 1862, pitted 12 Union troops and one scout against 10 Confederates soldiers who were guarding the pass near Picacho Peak. One Union soldier died and four were wounded, while three Confederate soldiers were captured. Ultimately, the Union troops retreated, allowing their Confederate counterparts to withdraw back to Tucson, the capital of the western half of the Confederate territory. According to a 2019 thesis by Kaitlyn Burnham, an Arizona State University graduate student, the Confederate memorial was one of three monuments placed at the Capitol before the idea of a plaza came to fruition. The Confederate monument was the first of the three, followed by the Ten Commandments Memorial in 1964 and the Pioneer Women Memorial in 1968. The monument later moved to Wesley Bolin Plaza. At the request of then-Gov. Raul Castro, the legislature in 1975 approved plans for space that would house the state’s various monuments. Three years later, it was named in honor of Bolin, who died in March 1978, several months after becoming governor.”

Workers secure the top portion of the Confederate monument as they prepare to remove it from the corner of Fourth and Liberty streets in March 2019. Walt Unks/Journal

This article from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, tells us, “A new lawsuit filed by the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy brings forward for the first time the legal claim that the local chapter owns the Confederate statue that the city removed from downtown Winston-Salem last year. Although the UDC’s main contention remains that Forsyth County owns the statue and that Winston-Salem was wrong to remove it, the UDC’s new lawsuit, filed May 4 against the city and county, raises an alternative claim that the UDC owns the statue and that the city illegally took the group’s property. ‘In a nutshell, the city had no legal right to take possession of the monument, let alone remove it from its 117-year-old location,’ attorney James A. Davis, representing the UDC, said in an email. The statue was put up in 1905 on the corner of a downtown block where the Forsyth County courthouse stood. The city took down the statue on March 12, 2019, and had it put into storage, where it remains today. Because of public protests for and against the presence of the statue, and citing protests in other North Carolina cities in which Confederate statues were toppled, city officials said the statue posed a public safety threat. The UDC, which had once claimed ownership of the statue, took a different stance when it sued the city and Forsyth County on Jan. 31, 2019, in advance of the statue’s removal. The UDC asserted that because Forsyth County excluded the statute when it sold the courthouse property in 2014, the county considered that it owned it. The UDC position was that since the county owns the statue, the statue falls under a state law passed in 2015 that forbids the removal of monuments on public property. The county denied ownership of the statue when it responded to the 2019 UDC lawsuit. The county said that its permission for the UDC to put the statue at the courthouse did not signify that the county had ever taken ownership of it. As well, the city has argued that the statue no longer stood on public land after the county sold the courthouse property to a private developer for conversion into apartments in 2014. The ownership of the statue isn’t the only thing at stake in the lawsuit: The UDC says the removal of the statue is an infringement of speech, a violation of equal protection rights and a case of unlawful seizure — all constitutional claims.”

The article also says, “When Forsyth County Superior Court dismissed the UDC’s original lawsuit on May 8, 2019, Judge Eric Morgan found that the UDC’s lack of a claim of ownership of the statue was in part grounds for ruling that the UDC did not have the right to sue over the statue’s removal. The UDC appealed Morgan’s ruling, but the N.C. Court of Appeals has not yet issued a decision on the appeal. If the alternative claim that the UDC owns the statue were to prevail, the UDC is asking the court to award the organization the ‘fair market value’ of the statue, which it estimates as being more than $25,000. Davis said the new UDC lawsuit also puts the local chapter back into the case. Last year, during a hearing, Davis took a dismissal of the local chapter from the case. Davis said he did that to avoid an involuntary dismissal that would have resulted because the local chapter had never filed the proper certificate with the Register of Deeds office. That certificate has since been filed. As well, the new lawsuit makes a claim for attorney fees and costs. Although the new lawsuit maintains that the city’s removal of the monument deprived the UDC of the monument, the city offered in 2019 to move the monument to Salem Cemetery. The cemetery has a section where Confederate veterans were buried adjacent to each other. City attorney Angela Carmon said the city would answer the claim of depriving the group of the statue in its answer to the new lawsuit. Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines, who had made contacts with the UDC before 2018 in a bid to find a new home for the statue, said Friday he hasn’t spoken to anyone in the UDC about the monument since its fate got tied up in the court system. Joines said that if the UDC wants the statue, ‘we would try to work with them on where they would like to have it put.’ ”

This article comes to us from Graham, North Carolina. It tells us, “Alamance County Manager Bryan Hagood wrote an email to county commissioners Saturday recommending the county relocate a Confederate memorial to avoid violence. A new state of emergency was declared and two men were arrested Saturday on Court Square while two groups gathered at the Confederate memorial outside the Alamance County Historic Courthouse. ‘As County Manager, one of my roles is to advise the Board of Commissioners. At this time I am advising the relocation of the Confederate memorial located at the Historic Courthouse in Graham to a secure, undisclosed location where it can be safely held until a permanent location for it can be determined. I have not come to this conclusion lightly, but through the observation of happenings around Alamance County and concern about the dividing passions the Confederate memorial stirs up among our citizens,’ Hagood wrote, according to an email forwarded to The Times-News. The county has a ‘narrow window’ to avoid an incident like the recent one in Raleigh, where demonstrators clashed with police before pulling down Confederate monuments on the capital grounds. He argued the possibility of Alamance County sheriff’s deputies or Graham Police having to use deadly force to protect the monument would be “a terrible thing for Alamance County” and allowing a mob to vandalize the monument would be a ‘travesty.’ Two crowds gathered at the monument Saturday night who had, as Graham Police put it, ‘opposing views surrounding the placement of the Confederate monument.’ Private citizens ‘willing to resort to violence’ to keep the monument where it is was another danger increasing the chances that someone could be hurt or killed over the monument’s location, Hagood wrote. The county has not yet made an announcement as of Sunday afternoon on whether the monument could be moved.”

In this article we learn the Senate Majority Liar, “Moscow Mitch” McConnell, also lies about statues. I says, “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday rebuffed Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s calls for nearly a dozen Confederate statues to be removed from the Capitol, saying it was an attempt to ‘airbrush’ history. ‘What I do think is clearly a bridge too far is this nonsense that we need to airbrush the Capitol and scrub out everybody from years ago who had any connection to slavery,’ the Kentucky Republican told reporters, noting that a handful of former American presidents owned slaves. Each U.S. state sends two statues to the Capitol building, and they can be switched out at any time. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who chairs the Senate Rules Committee, said seven states are in the process of removing certain statues from the Capitol. But last week, amid a nationwide reckoning over continued racial injustices highlighted by police killings of unarmed African Americans, Pelosi demanded that 11 Confederate statues be immediately removed. ‘While I believe it is imperative that we never forget our history lest we repeat it, I also believe that there is no room for celebrating the violent bigotry of the men of the Confederacy in the hallowed halls of the United States Capitol or in places of honor across the country,’ Pelosi wrote. Despite his opposition to removing the statues, McConnell signaled an openness on Tuesday to calls for U.S. military installations to be renamed if they are named for a leader of the Confederacy. The Senate Armed Services Committee last week approved an amendment to the annual defense policy bill that would require the Pentagon to rename those locations.”

This article from Greenville, North Carolina, tells us, “The Pitt County Confederate Soldiers Monument outside the courthouse in Greenville has been removed. Crews began work just after midnight on Monday and say it took about 5 and 1/2 hours to take it down. The statue atop the monument was removed shortly before 5:00 a.m. but officials say mechanical issues with the crane mean the pedestal and base will be removed at a later time. The statue was taken to a secure, monitored location where it will be preserved and stored until a relocation committee, appointed by the Pitt County Board of Commissioners determines a permanent location. The Pitt County Board of Commissioners voted last Monday 7-2 in favor of the ‘immediate removal’ of the monument. Officially referred to as the Pitt County Confederate Soldiers Monument, it stood 27’ tall and featured a ‘common soldier’ type statue, which did not resemble or memorialize any single historical figure or event. It was funded and donated by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and was dedicated on November 13, 1914.”

Showing us the racists who display the flag are also liars willing to do anything to distort history, we have this article from Columbus, Ohio of all places. “Nestled between forested mountains, the Confederate battle flag and the American flag flap in the wind on opposite ends of Herman Nelson’s long porch. Nelson has been living in Blue Creek, an unincorporated community in Adams County, an Ohio Appalachian county along the Ohio River, for the better part of 20 years. But he has been proudly flying the Confederate battle flag for as long as he can remember. ‘It ain’t got a thing to do with racism or race,’ the 59-year-old said. ‘To me, it just represents part of American history.’ Even though Ohio was part of the Union during the Civil War, Nelson said the Confederate, or rebel, battle flag still resonates with some rural Ohioans as a symbol of heritage and a way to honor family. Nelson said he has ancestors who served in the Union and the Confederate armies. Blue Creek is about 100 miles southwest of Columbus, and only about 10 miles from the Ohio River, which separates Ohio from Kentucky. In the war, Kentucky was a slave-holding border state torn between the North and South, having been the birthplace of both U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and the Confederacy’s president, Jefferson Davis. For Steve Lewis, who lives 13 miles from Nelson in West Union, the Adams County seat, the Confederate battle flag is a battle cry against the federal government and a call to buck the system. But the flag, as a symbol of the Confederacy, is inherently tied to slavery; Article IV of the 1861 Constitution of Confederate States legalized slavery. And Black Ohioans are still haunted by the flag’s racist origins today. One of them, Leron Carlton, 39, is a retired Army specialist who served in the 1st Cavalry Division and now teaches music at a high school in Knox County. He was born in Jefferson in Ashtabula County in Ohio’s northeastern corner and grew up surrounded by images of the Confederate battle flag. ‘The first time I recall seeing it, I was probably 7 or 8 years old,’ Carlton said. ‘I was at the courthouse with my best friend, and we had just seen ‘Glory,’ and we were terrified.’ Carlton said he knew exactly what that flag stood for. His parents and grandparents grew up in the Mississippi Delta in the 1940s, when Black men and women would mysteriously disappear. Carlton recalled a fellow high school student who hurled racial slurs at him and plastered stickers of the Confederate battle flag on school binders and bumper stickers on the back of his truck. The battle flag was also a constant in his time in the military, on and off base, and Carlton still encounters such flags while driving to work in Knox County. ‘Part of me is ambivalent — I’m not going to change it,’ he said. ‘Sometimes people will at least acknowledge, ‘I understand this is a problem for you, but it means more to me and my heritage than what it means to you as a symbol of hate.’ ”

And now another racist enters the story. “Caroline Holiman, a 42-year-old Arkansas transplant living in Pickaway County, said the flag is all about ‘heritage, not hate.’ ‘Don’t judge me by the flag I fly, but how I treat you and your friends,’ she said. Holiman, who flies the Confederate battle flag between American and Trump 2020 flags at her home in Mount Sterling, said she thinks we live in a world where everyone is too preoccupied with hurting each other’s feelings, and she welcomes criticism and the debate. ‘It’s misconstrued,’ Holiman said. ‘Being from the South, the flag is historical.’ Two weeks ago, NASCAR banned the presence of Confederate battle flags from all events, races and properties, while Ohio legislators, on the same day, rejected a proposed ban on selling or displaying the flag at county fairs. Would Holiman ever consider taking down her flag because others believe it’s a symbol of hate? ‘Well, that’s hogwash,’ she said. ‘By taking it down, you’re burying history. There are racist people who fly the flag, but they don’t represent me’ Ohio State history professor Joan E. Cashin, who specializes in the Civil War era, said it’s impossible to break the connection between the flag and slavery. ‘People who criticize the use of the Confederate flag are not erasing history; they’re upholding history,’ Cashin said. ‘The historical evidence is overwhelming — that flag means states’ rights, but it also means slavery, and it’s baffling to me how people try to deny that connection.’ Cashin said the former Confederate elite dedicated the years after they lost the war to trying to justify slavery and secession by glamorizing and sanitizing their motivations. ‘This Lost Cause fantasy, where all white Southerners fought together against the Yankee army and supported the Confederacy around the issue of states’ rights, was created very self-consciously,’ she said, ‘but at the heart of it there are several different falsehoods.’ ‘It’s a kind of self-deception,’ Cashin added. ‘People have allowed themselves to be misled about what that flag meant in 1860.’ Lewis said his association with the Confederate battle flag has nothing to do with racism. He flies the flag as a symbol of his distaste with the federal government. ‘I love our country, but all empires have come to an end, and I’m afraid ours is coming to an end,’ he said. Lewis said he has been pushed too far by the federal government. ‘I don’t believe in blind obedience,’ he said. Down Route 125 in Adams County, Nelson argues that the flag is just a representation of Southerners during the Confederacy who fought against the Union Army during the Civil War. By taking it down, he would be betraying history. ‘Look at how many people in this country stay here but don’t believe in the American flag,’ he said. Nelson said he believes that George Floyd’s death was ‘outright murder,’ but added that he didn’t conflate his right to fly the Confederate battle flag with police brutality or the Black Lives Matter movement. ‘I never did associate that flag with slavery,’ he said. Carlton said he isn’t devoid of hope for a future where Blacks in Ohio no longer drive past a symbol of the Confederacy flying from porches and flag poles or draped over barn doors. ‘I feel like it’ll be an issue for a very long time, but to me, the most heartwarming, if not motivating, thing, was to see the Marine Corps announce they are banning the flag,’ he said. ‘It’s like, finally, this isn’t an open discussion anymore.’ Carlton, who was stationed during his Army career at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Benning in Georgia — bases named for Confederate generals — said that renunciation of the Confederate battle flag by a branch of the military makes him think this time will be different. ‘If they can change them … then any other argument left doesn’t matter,’ he said. ‘It gives me more hope than I’ve ever had.’ ”

In this article from Salisbury, North Carolina, we get an update on the “Fame” monument. “The Robert F. Hoke chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy has agreed to the city’s plan to relocate the ‘Fame’ Confederate statue to the Old Lutheran Cemetery on North Lee Street. Mayor Karen Alexander said she picked up the signed agreement from the UDC late Sunday night on her way home from Beech Mountain, where she was vacationing. The Salisbury City Council unanimously agreed at its meeting on June 16 to relocate the statue to the Old Lutheran Cemetery on North Lee Street, where other Confederate soldiers are currently buried, with at least $55,000 raised by the original UDC descendants and local historic groups to add site amenities to the new location. The Historic Salisbury Foundation has agreed to serve as the fiduciary agent to oversee those funds. The next step will involve the city hiring a contractor to estimate the total cost and timeframe with hopes to have it relocated as quickly as possible, which is the desire of both the community and the UDC, Alexander said. The agreement was mailed to the UDC on Wednesday, and the chapter signed five days before the deadline of June 26. Alexander said these efforts included a long process, but she’s grateful for all those involved who came together to come to a resolution in a lawful and peaceful way, which she adds ‘speaks volumes to our community.’ “

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