Debates Over the Confederate Flag Continue to Rise

Debates over the Confederate flag are becoming more prevalent since images of the confessed Charleston killer Dylann Roof emerged.

Roof is pictured burning the American flag and holding the Confederate flag up, the same flag that resides at South Carolina's state capitol.

So what is the Confederate flag and why is it controversial?

Mercer University southern studies professor Doug Thompson says the flag is connected to the American Civil War but with a darker existence.

"Nathan Bedford Forrest developed a group of night riders who went around raiding people, particularly a group of African Americans newly freed, and trying to help them realize they were not nearly as free as they thought they were," Thompson said.

Thousands of people are rallying and protesting for the flag to be taken down.

Seven southern states still use some version of the Confederate flag as their symbol including Georgia.

"It is an appropriate symbol to be flown for white people. African Americans clearly recognized that's what it means. It's a symbol of racism," Thompson said.

Professor Thompson says even though the meaning of the flag has been changed over the years, it still can't escape what it once represented.

"It can never escape that attachment and as much as we want it to be about heritage and not hate, it will always have some element of hate in part because it was always used for some form of suppression," Thompson said.

WGXA reached out to several Confederate groups for comment today and received only this statement from James King who is the commander for camp 1-41 in Albany, Georgia:

"Ignorant people who denounce the Confederacy are probably unaware of the slave narratives. From 1934 to 1936 during the Franklin Roosevelt administration as part of WPA, over 2,000 old former slaves were interviewed and their stories recorded. Virtually, all spoke of the kind treatment by former masters and the good times prior to the war but the union of the stars and stripes gets a pass while condemnation is heaped on the Confederacy and the Confederate flag. Why? Hypocrisy due to ignorance."

South Carolina's governor Nikki Haley has ordered the flag to be taken down but there are several legal steps that have to be taken on the government level.

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