Commentary:

The Old GA Flag…heritage or paycheck?

By Tomi Morris Johnson

Digital images by Tomi Johnson and K.C. Lewis

©2003 WingcomLtd. All Rights Reserved.

tomij@wingcomltd.com

 

Why were a black man and an Indian at a “Bring Back the Old Georgia Flag” rally in Atlanta? (Photo by T. Johnson)

 

January 14, 2003, Atlanta, GA…Are southern hate mongers waving the Confederate flag rising again, or is it all an economic charade? First, one must consider what the confederate battle flag stands for, what type of government did the Confederacy represent, and what costs are being incurred by Georgia’s citizens (both human resources and finances) from this controversy.

 

The Confederacy was set up separate from the United States government and was formed over differences on slavery and state’s rights.  According to “An Introduction to the Confederate Government” (http://home.attbi.com/~ashitaka/wa/hidoi/gov1.html), Slaveholders were opposed to Lincoln because he wanted to stop the spread of slavery upon which the Southern economy was based…The slaveholders explained that the entire South needed to fight for their cause, as if abolitionists' plans succeeded, the freed slaves would pillage the South, stealing and raping without moral justification. Slaves need to be kept in line, they concluded, and the South needed to unite and secede... its founders disliked the deistic philosophies of the USA's founding fathers…”

 

During the years of the Civil Rights movement, the confederate flag was flying during KKK meetings and became an image of racism and lynching. Many people have negative reactions when they see the flag because it reminds them of murder and white supremacy. Perhaps slavery is on its way back as a result of high unemployment.

 

As I watched the flag wavers through my camera lens at Georgia’s State Capitol the day after Sonny Perdue became governor, I became confused when I saw three Black men proudly carrying the old Georgia flag, featuring the Stars and Bars, in front of the Capitol steps in downtown Atlanta.  Assuming they know Civil War history and that the KKK used the confederate flag, why in the world would a black man be caught carrying an old Georgia flag?

 

I talked with three of them, and two declared they were espousing their southern heritage. Their white, road dog friend said my distaste for the Confederate flag was a result of media conditioning, and that the American flag stood for more racism and slavery than the Confederate flag.  Degrees of bigotry, however, cannot be weighed thusly. One black flag carrier said he was from Mississippi. He was moving about on a walker and sweating profusely.  The other black flag waver said he hailed from South Carolina where the flag issue had “already been settled.” There are still black confederate sympathizers living in the South as well as Uncle Toms, so it seems.

 

Chilling messages in pictures from Georgia’s State Capitol. (Photos by Tomi Johnson)

 

Another brother, standing there holding the flag, said it was not his, and that he was a Civil War reenactment actor waiting for his big break from a Hollywood movie director.  He had been standing outside so long holding the Old Georgia flag that his lips were ashen, yet there he was, next to two white boys, a Native American, and a guy wearing a kilt!  I moved away from him when he lit up a cigarette.

 

Why are these flag wavers not proud of Georgia’s new flag that still bears the confederate emblem? Another question is who’s paying for these folks – men, women and children – to parade around in confederate garb despite heckles from citizens in a town which happens to be 67% Black?  Are these people crazy, or just getting paid?  You can really tell the economy is in a dive when people stoop to madness.

 

Peace symbols, stop signs, and children were part of the flag rally. (Photos by K. C. Lewis, Third-Eye Photography)

 

Real economic madness would come to this state if citizens decide to bring the old flag back. Didn’t it cost around $1 million to change the flag just two years ago and make copies to fly over every state building, including schools, all over Georgia?  Now, during a depression, they want to change the flag again, so some other flag maker can make another cool million.  Who owns that state contract anyway?

 

 

▲People carrying signs across the street greeted flag wavers at the Capitol. (1st photo by Tomi Johnson) As in any march, traffic was rerouted, but at this march, taxpayer money was spent on armed patrols and police helicopters. A crippled black man who said he was from Mississippi claimed to be marching to promote his southern heritage. (2nd photo by K. C. Lewis, Third-Eye Photography.)

 

Three banner planes circled the Capitol with these messages attached: “Let us vote. You promised,” “Sonny Country,” and “Barnes was just a warm-up.” On his 1st day as governor, Sonny Perdue is asking for a non-binding referendum. (Photos by Tomi Johnson)

To change the flag by popular vote would be costly to small-town taxpayers who can ill afford it. The Atlanta Journal reported the following:  “…it would require a special election in the many unincorporated areas of Georgia, and the cost -- more than $1 million, according to the secretary of state's office -- would fall on local governments.” Who are the Sons of Confederate Veterans trying to hurt, prideful African Americans or a majority of whites falling below the poverty line? What is the real “cause” of these Veterans – State’s rights or divisive chaos?

 

(Photos by K. C. Lewis, Third-Eye Photography.)

 

Are they actors, troublemakers, out-of work flag makers, confused illiterates, or racists?

Who are the people financing these men?

(Photos by Tomi Johnson)

 

What about the principal of the thing…I don’t care how much I want to revere my mother, I would never dig her up, God rest her soul, and have her stuffed and placed on my mantelpiece!  Maybe the Sons of the Confederate Veterans were staging this march as a publicity stunt to promote confederate memorabilia sold on their website. Maybe they are trying to get the Georgia legislature to vote on a non-binding referendum. Maybe they just like to dress up and feel important in January because Halloween is over. Only time will tell.

 

The information in this article is the opinion of the author and, therefore, should not be construed as libelous.

Please email comments to Tomi Johnson tomij@wingcomtld.com