Confederate Flag’s Stained Heritage of Hate

collage Jim Crow era sign and Confederate flag

To those who lived under Jim Crow laws there was no doubting the message or symbolism of the flag.

For those who still insist that the Confederate flag is a mere symbol of southern heritage and not one of hate, it should come as no surprise to the rest of us to whom it symbolizes and evokes years of Black oppression.

Racism and denial run deep in our culture.

After the Civil War the symbol of the Confederate flag may have been a source of southern pride and heritage used primarily  at veterans events  to commemorate fallen Confederate soldiers, but nearly 60 years later, the battle flag of General Robert E.Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia got co-opted by White supremacists, becoming the very emblem of racism displayed at cross burnings and lynchings.

I Don’t Know Nuthin About Racism

collage vintage ad happy Black butler and vintage photo of slave

Long immortalized in movies, books and advertising these media representations of gracious hospitality, and benevolent patrician life, deny the harsh reality of the South’s “peculiar institution.” (L) Vintage ad Four Roses Whiskey (R) Vintage photo of Peter aka Gordon a slave from Louisiana in 1863. The scars are a result of a whipping by his overseer.

Americas sense of moral superiority has long been blemished by that “peculiar institution.” 150 years later we still have a problem in this country coming to terms with the existence of slavery – the stubborn stain we just can’t seem to whitewash away. But not for lack of trying.

The mythology of the grand Old South is seductive. The Civil War was fought and the Confederate flag hoisted to preserve the “traditional” southern way of life as immortalized in countless movies and books. Even today Gone With the Wind, despite its many inaccuracies, forms the basis of American popular memory of the glory of the Old South.

Viewed through a gauzy haze of magnolia blossoms and weeping willows, the heritage of happy antebellum plantation life and their equally happy, loyal slaves co-existing in a mutually beneficial arrangement, is of course pure fiction. The romantic South is a figment of American popular imagination but one that has deep roots in our culture

I Wish I Were in Dixie

vintage Budweiser ad illustration Southern plantation life

In 1948 the same year this Budweiser ad appeared celebrating gracious hospitality in the old South, the Confederate flag, that archaic symbol of slavery and secession was co opted by the Dixiecrats who formed to oppose the civil rights platform of the Democratic party.

The gracious hospitality of the Old South was celebrated by Budweiser in 1948. That same year while some Americans were hoisting a beer to southern hospitality, others were also hoisting the Confederate flag.

Toasting the Old South’s contribution to good taste may not seem to be in good taste today, but the depiction of the southern hospitality of a  plantation owner admired in this ad, ran the same year the Confederate flag was adopted by the Dixiecrats, the segregationists that formed to oppose the civil rights platform of the Democratic party that called for racial integration and reversal of Jim Crow laws.

 

vintage ad showing southern plantation owner Four Roses

Vintage Four Roses ad

In 1948 the fear that the federal government (and one controlled by a Democrat of Confederate stock no less) intended to tell the White majority how to treat “our Negroes,” was too much. Southerners needed to “preserve their way of life.”

Lavishing the plantation legend, Budweiser praised Southern geniality in their ad:

“Yes, be it lavish or modest, hospitality is quickly recognized as an expression of friendliness”

With a nod to their loyal customers below the Mason Dixon line the ad notes : “Certain customs may vary in different parts of our vast country, but thoughtful locals in the every clime have learned guests welcome Bud as a gracious compliment.”

What exactly were these “gracious customs” the “thoughtful locals” of Dixie wanted to preserve?

Southern Hospitality

collage Civil Rights I am a Man photo and Confederate Flag

“Yes the southern gentleman has a particular tact in making a guest happy”… as long as he’s white. Hospitality was not just modest…it was nonexistent if you were a southern  African-American.

This was the southern heritage they were holding onto so vigorously. Here are some things a Black man dared not do in the South in 1948.

vintage Howard Johnson waitress

-Buy a cup of coffee or a meal in a “white restaurant” or even get a glass of water in an emergency.

 

vintage illustration mena nad women shopping woolworths

Vintage illustration for Woolworths

-Expect service from a white woman clerk at a dime store or department store, he was expected to stand quietly in the store until a man noticed him and asked what he wanted. He could not try on garments for size; he likely was not given a bag for his purchases.

-Sit on the ground floor of a movie theater. He bought his tickets at a separate entrance and climbed to the balcony.

-Ride in a taxi driven by a white man; Blacks were serviced by a separate fleet of ramshackle cars (“nigger taxis) run by the local undertaker.

 

vintage illustration white people on greyhond bus travel

Vintage Greyhound Bus ad

-The back benches of city buses were “reserved for Blacks” with White drivers periodically adjusting the boundary marker ( a card with arrows marked “white and “colored”) depending on the composition of the traffic. “Surplus” blacks stood regardless of the number of empty seats.

 

vintage illustration children drinking from water cooler

-Drink from a public fountain that was not marked “colored” Department stores that sold to Blacks had separate water coolers they offered no restrooms for Blacks whatsoever.

 

vintage illustration going to the polls

-Vote in the primary elections for city and county officials. The dominant party considered itself “private and did not admit Blacks. A black who insisted on paying his poll tax and registering to vote in a state or national election risked losing his job or worse.

-Swim in public pool, take books from the library, walk on the sidewalk if a white indicated he wanted right of way; be sure of service at a gas station, have a paved road in front of his house even though he paid his taxes.

This was what the Confederate flag was hoisted to preserve in 1948.

Vintagephoto civil rights I am a Man

“The Truman civil rights plan wants to reduce us to the status of a mongrel, inferior race, mixed in blood, out Anglo-Saxon heritage a mockery” Keynote speech Dixiecrat convention –Alabama Governor F. Dixon

Walking out of the Democratic Presidential convention, the Dixiecrats waved confederate flags and chanted support of then-Governor of South Carolina Strom Thurmond for President. The platform called for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race.” Their campaign slogan was “Segregation Forever.

The Confederate flag co-opted by these white supremacists was forever stained by hate . To those who lived under Jim Crow laws there was no doubting the message or symbolism of the flag.

(©) 20015 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved

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15 comments

  1. Great article. Mind if I link it in one of mine? … I think I linked one already. I hope you didn’t mind!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nicely done! Factual, comprehensive, a healthy reminder of just what that traitor rag is all about.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Having grown up in the south, I can tell you that flag symbolizes our traditions of segregation, the kkk, slavery, Jim Crow and lynching. Isn’t it about time we pulled it down? We wouldn’t allow a flag with a swastika on it, would we? Of course, there might be those who would cry out that the swastika only symbolizes our traditions. But would we continue to allow it to fly? I think not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate your input and perspective having grown up in the South. As a Jew, I can’t imagine the horror of having to walk by a flag adorned with a swastika. Trying to spin that as a reminder of Germany’s greatness and fallen soldiers is ludicrous, as is the honoring the Confederate flag.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for all that you do with your blog. I always find it inspirational. The recent incidents was the reason I fell compelled to honor the Civil Rights workers and martyrs today. The church shootings brought back the four girls who died in the Birmingham.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great! I presume you won’t mind me sharing it?
    If I remember it right, the KKK was – or is – opposed to Blacks, Chineese, Jews, Catholics, gay people, “adulterers” and often even those selling alcohol.

    If you check on the KKK-movement, you first think it is a sort of prank organization – with all these titles like “Grand Wizard” and Dragon this and that. The Invisible Empire. Everybody is somebody’s uncle or cousin. The movies you remember are “Mississippi Burning” and “In the heat of the night”: Apart from the newsreels – Selma, Alabama. The church bombings, the freedom riders that disappeared. And the Little Rock school integration, where federal para-troopers had to replace the locally recruited National Guards. They had ties to the demonstrators they was supposed clear away so the students could enter the school.

    In Europe, the TV channels usually has several news programs up to 30 minutes and more, every night. So this must be the worst PR disaster ever. No propaganda cooked up in the communist ministries or think tanks during the Cold War had even a fraction of the impact of these newsreels. So the KKK has been the best friend ever for the communists of the world! “Gefundenes Fressen.”

    But of course – the KKK were real softies compared to the ISIS / IS / ISIL / Daesh of our days.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Dixie Fried”?
    RAW STORY: “Missouri store owner who said Confederate flag is not about ‘hate’ is married to the Klan”

    Quote: “The owner of a store specializing in Confederacy merchandise in Branson, Missouri has moved from defending the Confederate flag to defending herself and her business after it was discovered that her family has longtime ties to Ku Klux Klan.

    In an interview with the Springfield News-Leader last Monday, Dixie Outfitters owner Anna Robb defended the controversial flag in the wake of the Charleston shootings./…/”

    “Tipped off by readers, the News-Leader checked into Robb’s background later and discovered her husband was involved with the Klan back in the 90’s, and that her father-in-law is Thomas Robb, national director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

    An Associated Press report in 1990 showed that Robb’s husband, Nathan, applied to adopt one mile of U.S. 65 near the Arkansas-Missouri state line as part of a litter campaign. Robb was identified as “den commander” of a Klan group in Harrison, Arkansas at the time./…/”
    http://www.rawstory.com/2015/06/missouri-store-owner-who-said-confederate-flag-is-not-about-hate-is-married-to-the-klan/

    Heritage or hate? Ozarks joins debate
    http://www.news-leader.com/story/news/local/ozarks/2015/06/23/heritage-hate-ozarks-joins-debate/29171795/

    Branson store owner, who said rebel flag doesn’t represent racism, has ties to KKK
    http://www.news-leader.com/story/news/local/ozarks/2015/06/26/branson-store-owner-said-rebel-flag-represent-racism-ties-kkk/29325367/

    http://www.thomasrobb.com/
    [This Page Cannot Be Displayed — Based on your organization’s access policies, access to this web site ( http://www.thomasrobb.com/ ) has been blocked because the web category “Hate Speech” is not allowed.

    “ACLU PANEL AGREES TO REPRESENT KLAN IN ANTI-LITTER CAMPAIGN DISPUTE
    TOM PARSONS , Associated Press Jan. 21, 1992 11:13 PM ET
    LITTLE ROCK, ARK. LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ American Civil Liberties Union lawyers agreed Tuesday to represent a Ku Klux Klan group seeking to participate in a state Adopt-a-Highway anti-litter program, an ACLU spokesman said.
    The ACLU’s legal panel voted 5-1 at a meeting Tuesday in Little Rock to take the case, said Jay Jacobson, executive director of the ACLU’s Arkansas affiliate./…/”
    http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1992/ACLU-Panel-Agrees-to-Represent-Klan-in-Anti-Litter-Campaign-Dispute/id-0ab3a9fcd028bd38d6c0e0cc2266e28e

    Like

  6. — Oh my God – the jihadists have invaded the USA under disguise!

    “Pastors call for stonings and warn of God’s wrathful judgment after marriage equality ruling”
    http://www.rawstory.com/2015/06/pastors-call-for-stonings-and-warn-of-gods-wrathful-judgment-after-marriage-equality-ruling/

    Like

    • The story of the rabid pastor is no surprise .The Supreme Court decision on same sex marriage has caused the bigots and homophobes to come out of the woodwork .The backlash from the religious right is reminiscent of a less enlightened time not so long ago when the very notion of gay marriage was inconceivable if not downright frightening. In the early 1970s as gay rights became more vocal, pamphlets were produced filled with dire warnings of the dangers of homosexuality and the “coming revolution” invading the mainstream predicting an ominous future filled with gasp…gay marriage http://wp.me/p2qifI-1Cp

      Like

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