The Confederate flag won’t die.
The Confederate States of America lasted about 4 years, but the flag that has come to define it has life a century and a half later, and there’s no reason to believe it will be leaving stage left any time soon, or even that it should.
It still flies on the grounds of South Carolina’s State House.
It’s design is still apparent in other flags.
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It still brings out the most passionate debate in this state. And it was one of the reasons David Beasley’s attempt in the 1990s to win a second term as governor was thwarted – because he dared reveal that God told him that the flag needed to come down from about the State House.
The Confederate flag has launched a thousand protests, rallies and boycotts.
And it is the primary reason 2,000 people gathered in Columbia on Monday to celebrate Martin Luther King Day.
That event began in 2000, attracting about 50,000, during the height of the debate over what to do with the flag, which was eventually lowered and moved to the soldier’s monument on State House grounds.
The flag also has made it harder for Myrtle Beach to attract major sporting events because the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Williams sisters of tennis fame, among others, have frowned upon it.
It remains one of the most important facets of social life and historical reflection in the South and particularly in this state, which was the first to secede from the union, paving the way for the existence of the Confederate States of America.
Moral, ethical and other issues related to the flag will be discussed at 4:30 Wednesday at Coastal Carolina University as part of the Java Jabber series. It’s being held at Kimbel Library on the second floor in the Bryan Information Commons.
Ken Thrasher, lieutenant commander of the S.C. Sons of Confederate Veterans, will speak on the history and culture of the Confederate flag.
Visiting ethicist and Jackson Center Fellow David Killoren will moderate. Professors Preston McKever-Floyd and Maggi Morehouse, of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies and Department of History, respectively, also will participate.
I’ve been invited to take part as well and will be there to discuss the issue from my vantage point, which includes about a decade of writing about this issue from a variety of angles and as a native of South Carolina.
The cover of my first book, "Proud. Black. Southern. (But I Still Don’t Eat Watermelon in Front of White People)" includes the flag as a tattoo on the biceps of a black man. I will explain why that image was chosen.
And we’ll all try to get beyond the simplistic “heritage vs. hate” dynamic that has become too much a hallmark of an all-too-important discussion.