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Florida's Flag Must Go
After years of debating whether the
Confederate battle flag should fly on
government property a consensus is finally
being reached against a symbol that is clearly
There is no other symbol in America that
represents racism more than the Confederate
battle flag. The idea that the flag stands for
anything else but racism is preposterous.
Let's look at history --- the Confederate flag
began as a symbol of slavery and later used
by groups opposed to Civil Rights. This
shouldn't be up for debate.
Republican leaders of South Carolina have
rightfully called for its removal in Charleston
and there appears to be a growing movement
in Mississippi calling for the legislature to
redesign the state flag.
This is a debate the LGBT community
should be paying attention to because no
symbol of hate should be revered. The LGBT
community should condemn this flag --- this
symbol --- in the strongest terms possible.
We must stand with our black brothers and
sisters. This fight against hate affects us all.
We have borne the brunt of hate time and
time again. So we know what it feels like.
And that brings me to Florida.
Our flag appears to be benign enough, but
it also has a connection to the Confederate
flag. The red bars featured on our flag are
known as St. Andrew's Cross, a prominent
symbol of the Confederacy --- a symbol that
is basis of the Confederate battle flag. The
only difference is one features stars inside
the bars while our bars are solid red.
The man who proposed this flag, Francis
P. Fleming, was a known segregationist, who
served in the Confederate army. He was also
the Governor of Florida.
Fleming said he wanted to add the red bars
so our flag would not look like a white flag of
truce or surrender. Coincidentally Alabama
also added red bars just a few years before we
did. According to historical records that flag
was modeled after the flag of Alabama's Civil
While there doesn't appear to be any
legislative records linking Florida's addition
of the St. Andrew's Cross to the Confederacy
or Civil War, it's safe to assume the
"While no legislative records indicate
the new flag was an attempt to honor
the Confederacy, University of Florida
history professor Fitz Brundage said the
change came during a decade that saw
a wave of nostalgia sweep across the
South for the 'Lost Cause.' The fact that
the St. Andrew's cross was chosen also is
evidence of an intent to commemorate
the Confederacy, he said."
--- From an article in Savannah Morning
News from 2000
Besides Fleming serving in the Civil
War his ties to the confederacy are well
established long after the war was over with
him serving as commander of the R.E. Lee
Camp of Confederate Veterans; aide-de-
camp to General John B. Gordon, Florida
Division of the United Confederate Veterans;
and president of the Old Confederate
Soldiers' and Sailors' Home Association.
Further evidence is found in one of
Fleming's most notorious acts as Governor
where he removed from office the state's
only black judge, James Dean of Monroe
County in 1889, because he had married
a white man to a black woman, which was
illegal in the state (even though the groom
claimed he was mulatto).
In 2002 Jeb Bush posthumously reinstated
"This happened in a different space and
time in our state's history, but irrespective
of how long it's taken us to right this wrong,
I think it's more than appropriate to do so,"
Bush said at the time.
I agree with Bush on that. And the same
could be said for our flag. It was designed
in a different space and time in our history,
but there's nothing from stopping us from
redesigning it again. This time making sure
it has no connection, no link, however slight,
to our racist past.
There are many who like to downplay
slavery as the reason for the Civil War, but
I think the motive can be summed up by
this speech from the Vice President of the
Confederacy, Alexander Stephens.
Here's just a snippet:
"Its foundations are laid, its corner-
stone rests, upon the great truth that
the negro is not equal to the white
man; that slavery subordination to the
superior race is his natural and normal
condition. This, our new government,
is the first, in the history of the
world, based upon this great physical,
philosophical, and moral truth. This
truth has been slow in the process of its
development, like all other truths in the
various departments of science...
... Many governments have been
founded upon the principle of the
subordination and serfdom of certain
classes of the same race; such were and
are in violation of the laws of nature.
Our system commits no such violation
of nature's laws. With us, all of the
white race, however high or low, rich
or poor, are equal in the eye of the law.
Not so with the negro. Subordination
is his place. He, by nature, or by the
curse against Canaan, is fitted for that
condition which he occupies in our
So you see the Confederacy was based
on the belief that not all men were created
equal. And the above speech says it all. This
was America's great shame and it should not
be celebrated --- ever. The Confederacy is a
part of our history, there's no getting away
from that, but that doesn't mean we need to
throw it in the black community's face.
That's why it's time for Florida to change
Florida State Flag. Photo: Oscar Cortez.
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