Southern Pride in the Deep North

Civil War Monument in Dowagiac, Michigan

Looks like trouble in the Deep South North over the display of the Confederate flag in a public high school.  Earlier this week, school officials in Dowagiac, Michigan banned students from wearing clothing that displayed the Confederate flag.  Tensions between black and white students have continued to mount since the decision.  A number of students have been suspended and police now patrol the school grounds owing to the number of threats that have been made both online and at the school.  The whole thing is utterly ridiculous and, in the end, it looks like school officials are to blame for allowing the is to get out of hand.

Here is what I would suggest.  The African American students should approach the parent, who is handing out free t-shirts and ask to wear one.  If she only hands them out to the white students than we are probably safe in concluding that this does have something to do with race.  But if this is really just about expressing your southern pride in Michigan and acknowledging the “true history” of the Civil War than both the black and white students should embrace it in order to move on from this silliness.  There is no more effective way of diffusing a controversial symbol than appropriating it as your own.  Just imagine the news coverage of an entire black student body wearing Confederate t-shirts.

Once they’ve done that I suggest that the history department do its job and teach.  How about taking their students on a little field trip to the Civil War monument located in downtown Dowagiac.  My guess is that the soldier is not carrying a Confederate flag.

About the author: Thank you for taking the time to read this post. What next? Scroll down and join the discussion in the comments section. Looking for more Civil War content? You can follow me on Twitter. Check out my forthcoming book, Searching For Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth, which is the first book-length analysis of the black Confederate myth ever published. Pre-order your copy today.

9 comments… add one
  • Bill Underhill Oct 21, 2011 @ 5:26

    Kevin,

    Isn’t that the premise in Percy Everett’s “The Appropriation of Cultures”?

    • Kevin Levin Oct 21, 2011 @ 5:31

      Hi Bill,

      I am not familiar with that book. Sorry.

      • Bill Underhill Oct 21, 2011 @ 6:18

        Kevin,

        I think that you will enjoy this.

        This is a reading of a short story by Percival Everett called The Appropriation of Cultures. It is read by the actor, director Reuben Santiago Hudson.
        With the continuing controversy of flying or displaying the Confederate flag, this story will tickle your funny bone. It lasts about 20 minutes.
        Listen to it and it will be the best 20 minutes you’ve spent in a long while.

        http://vfp143.org/pod/FLAG.mp3

        • Kevin Levin Oct 21, 2011 @ 6:19

          Thanks, Bill. I look forward to listening to it.

          • D.G. Foulke Oct 27, 2011 @ 0:52

            Alright Kevin, this time you really *must* give a listen to the Everett piece. This is the second such “flagging” here, at least: I did so back in March of 2011 as well ( http://cwmemory.com/2011/03/04/confederate-flag-antics/ ) . It’s a tremendously funny and heartwarming story.

  • Rob Baker Oct 21, 2011 @ 7:03

    Brilliant.

    BTW, the new blog colors are tripping me out.

    • Kevin Levin Oct 21, 2011 @ 7:13

      Always experimenting.

  • Ray O'Hara Oct 21, 2011 @ 12:10

    Of course if all the Black students started wearing CBF emblazoned t-shirts the SCV and UDC would claim it proves the ACW wasn’t about slavery.

  • Fraser Oct 23, 2011 @ 5:13

    I believe this actually happened in a Southern school. A company manufactured Confederate flag-tshirts to black teens (the slogan on the shirt was something to the effect of “The children of slaves and the children of slaveholders, bound together.”) and a lot of whites complained it was offensive.

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