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Debunking the Myths About the Confederate Flag

Debunking the Myths About the Confederate Flag

As the debate over the display of the Confederate flag rages on, CNN has compiled a list seperating fact from fiction over the origins of the southern relic that you can use in your classroom when discussing the debate with your class.

There are many misconceptions over the origins and use of the Confederate flag for southern states fighting in the American civil war. For instance, many say that the flag was flown at Confederate funerals, specifically Gen. Robert E. Lee's funeral to represent a symbol of dying pride in the south. However, the flag was actually specifically used in Confederate army units during battle.

"... even Lee distanced himself from divisive symbols of a Civil War that his side lost. 'I think it wiser moreover not to keep open the sores of war,' he wrote in a letter, declining an invitation by the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association," CNN said.

Contrary to popular belief, the Confederate flag did not become a symbol of southern pride from the day the civil war ended. In fact, the flag was only briefly seen as a symbol to commemorate fallen soldiers at occasional events.

So, when did the flag explode into prominence? It was during the struggle for civil rights for black Americans, in the middle of the 20th century. The first burst may have been in 1948. South Carolina politician Strom Thurmond ran for president under the newly founded States Rights Democratic Party, also known as the Dixiecrats. The party's purpose was clear: 'We stand for the segregation of the races,' said Article 4 of its platform.

According to CNN, the more milestones passed in favor of the civil rights movement, such as Brown vs. Board of Ed, the more the Confederate flag began to pop up in protest.

But ever since then, the Confederate flag has surged as a symbol to the point where one state requires a super majority to even remove it from its Capitol; in South Carolina, the flag is protected by law.

"In 1961, to honor the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, South Carolina lawmakers raised the Confederate battle flag over the State House. In 2000, it was moved to a flagpole next to a soldiers' monument, and its position there was protected by the 2000 Heritage Act. The act said that any changes to the act will require a "two-thirds vote of each house of the General Assembly."

Also interestingly enough, the Confederate flag we see today was not even the first flag used to represent the breakaway states. In fact, there were three other flags in use before the Confederate flag became the one we remember today. Prior flags looked too close to the Union flag, confusing soldiers, or looked too similar to a flag of surrender.

Read more about the history of the Confederate flag here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

-7/02/2015

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