The recent decision by the community at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond has received a great deal of media coverage. It is certainly one of the most significant decisions on the part of an institution to remove Confederate iconography since the lowering of the Confederate battle flag in Columbia, S.C. this past summer. St. Paul’s has a deep historical connection to Richmond’s Confederate past. General Robert E. Lee and his wife attended services at St. Paul’s whenever possible throughout the war. In 1862, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was confirmed as a member of the parish. Many members of the community gave their lives in service of the Confederacy. The site was also used to treat wounded soldiers. On the morning of April 2, 1865, President Davis was delivered a message from General Lee stating that Petersburg, could no longer be defended thus rendering Richmond indefensible. Davis quietly left the church, and evacuated the Confederate government and army from the city that afternoon. Continue reading “Will the Virginia Flaggers “Restore the Honor” at St. Paul’s Episcopal?”
The horrific shooting of nine churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina back in June did not spark this public debate about the place of Confederate iconography in public places. Rather, it intensified it to a degree that few could have anticipated. Over the past ten years the Confederate flag has quietly (and on occasion not so quietly) been lowered from public places and removed from other institutions throughout the South and beyond. Southerners from all ethnic and racial backgrounds have had to wrestle with the question of whether the flag’s public display reflects their community’s collective values and view of the past.
For anyone who has followed this trend and the events of this summer, it is clear that Confederate flag advocates have been thoroughly defeated. Continue reading “Confederate Flags are Gone With the Wind”
This has been a tough week for folks who reduce the history of the South and Confederate heritage to the display of the flag. Yesterday evening the Danville City Council passed a flag ordinance with a vote of 7 to 2 limiting the flying of flags on city-owned property to the national, state, city and MIA/POW flags. I believe this is what the city of Lexington did as well to bring closure to this issue.
The Department of Motor Vehicles will also begin recalling specialty license plates featuring the Confederate battle flag. Continue reading “Virginia Isn’t For Confederate Flags”
Update: So many flags have been removed from various Confederate heritage sites that I apparently mixed them up today. The site in question in Richmond is the Confederate Memorial Chapel and not the Lee Chapel, which is located on the campus of Washington & Lee University in Lexington. Confederate flags have also been removed from inside the chapel. You can read an update to that story here.
This should not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the situation at the Lee Chapel on the grounds of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. The Lee-Jackson Camp No. 1, Sons of Confederate Veterans will no longer operate the chapel through a lease with the VMFA, but will instead have access through a use agreement.
The VMFA will now be able to devote its energies to site interpretation which is sorely lacking. The two times I visited the chapel an elderly gentleman lectured me more about modern politics than anything having to do with the history of the site. The site is much too important to be left to the SCV.
As for the Virginia Flaggers…well, they will not be affected by this change since they haven’t done much of anything to promote the Lee Chapel beyond complaining about the display of a Confederate flag out front. The decision, however, does highlight just how little impact they have made over the past four years. Perhaps they will raise another Confederate flag along a highway as compensation.
I have absolutely no problem with the Virginia Flaggers voicing their position at the recent hearing in Charlottesville, Virginia over whether Lee-Jackson Day ought to be continued. However, I do believe that the residents of my former home deserve full disclosure. They ought to know who is coming in from outside the community to shape public policy. They ought to know who is threatening them with the raising of Confederate flags on private property in retaliation.
The Virginia Flaggers, including Susan Hathaway, ought to be honest about the people they freely associate with.
Over the weekend I shared a story about a billboard that was placed near the Edmund Pettus Bridge by a group calling itself “The Friends of Forrest.” The story about the billboard and the organization has received a good deal of attention over the past few days. The Guardian even sent a reporter to interview Godwin and other members and is definitely worth your time if you can stomach it. Continue reading ““The Friends of Forrest” Includes The Virginia Flaggers”