Historic meaning of the Confederate flag still strong
Jason Pressberg / Columnist
The Confederate flag is still a symbol of southern pride.
Visiting Wal-Mart, you'll find it on bumper stickers,
hats and t-shirts of the local Elon and Burlington customers
that shop there. Many Elon students also have Confederate
flag bumper stickers and paraphernalia.
Ask anyone who has this symbol, and they'll most likely
tell you it has something to do with "southern
pride." But if you're a Northerner like me, you
might become uneasy by this.
No matter where you grew up, you will very likely receive an
extremely biased education, especially regarding the Civil
War. The New York public school district that I was taught in
left me with the impression that it was a battle between the
North, the good guys, and the South, the bad guys. The
Northerners were abolitionists, fighting from the good of
their hearts to end slavery. The Southerners were the cruel
masters of the slaves, fighting to keep their wicked slavery
I also came to college thinking the Confederate flag was and
is an evil symbol of hate. (Obviously, I was in for a rude
awakening when I came to Elon.) But to the Southerners
I've met that identify with it, they think of the flag as
a symbol of the joys and values of being Southern. Many of
these qualities, like common courtesy, are some of the things
that are so refreshing about the South compared to New York.
It's not that people aren't nice in the North; they
just don't care to be.
But the flag will never be an acceptable symbol, neither to
Northerners, civil rights activists, or African-Americans.
Sure, the flag no longer means the enforcement of slavery to
most of the Southerners that associate with it, but some
things will never change to those on the outside who view it.
After the Holocaust, there was a movement in America to
change the Swastika, once an aboriginal symbol of peace, back
into its original meaning. The symbol, it was claimed, was
once a good symbol and could be used for good again. The
movement died when it became apparent that the world would
forever associate Swastika's with the Nazis, never again
with anything to do with peace.
The Confederate flag, unfortunately, falls into the same
category. You can try to change its meaning, but outsiders
will always view it as a sign of hatred and bigotry.
This has real consequences, most notably in the
Southern-dominated sport of Nascar. Blacks have been trying
to be a part of the sport for years, but with symbols like
the Confederate flag still prevalent at many Nascar races, it
has been hard to stay focused. Why would anyone want to be a
part of a system that encourages a racist flag to be flown at
The Confederate flag has to go. There are many good
qualities about the South, but there are other ways to
glorify them than just this one. Its meaning has not and will
not change: even if Southerners consider it to be just a
symbol, it is still entrenched in racism.
Jason Pressberg is writing on behalf of D.E.E.P.,
Diversity Emerging Education Program.
Contact Jason Pressberg at email@example.com or