“The Friends of Forrest” Includes The Virginia Flaggers

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”

We’ll Always Have the First National Flag

There is a reason why Confederate heritage groups like the Virginia Flaggers emphasize the public display of the battle flag. It’s not simply that the flag is widely understood as the soldiers’ flag, but that it is the most visible reminder of the Confederacy. It’s an iconic symbol. This is the flag that Confederate heritage advocates wrap themselves around. In recent years, however, that is becoming more and more difficult to do at least in public spaces throughout the South.

Last night in Escambia County, Florida the community decided that the battle flag ought not to be flown as part of a display outside the Pensacola Bay Center. What will be flown to connect the community to its Confederate past is the First National Flag or Stars and Bars. What’s that, you ask? Well, it was the first national flag of the Confederate nation, which was flown from March 1861 to May 1863. Continue reading “We’ll Always Have the First National Flag”

Virginia Flaggers Surrender Charlottesville

Virginia FlaggersIt was so predictable. Even the anticipation of a city council vote on March 2 regarding whether to continue to recognize Lee-Jackson Day has the Virginia Flaggers scrambling for a plot of land to raise when of their Confederate flags. It’s their usual signal of surrender when decisions by local communities don’t go their way.

I’ve never understood this preoccupation with raising flags on highways and in other places that provide absolutely no historical context whatsoever. How exactly is a passerby suppose to know that this particular flag is meant to be interpreted in a certain way? Are the Flaggers oblivious to the fact that the flag is fraught with competing interpretations? For the sake of getting their message across to the general public, why wouldn’t they choose a form of commemoration that is less likely to be misunderstood? Continue reading “Virginia Flaggers Surrender Charlottesville”

The Fate of Lee-Jackson Day in Charlottesville

UPDATE: City Council has pushed their final decision to March 2. Stay tuned.

I think it is safe to say that later this evening the Charlottesville (Va) city council will vote to end the practice of recognizing Lee-Jackson Day. The vote will place Charlottesville in the same camp as Richmond, Fairfax, Alexandria, Fredericksburg, Hampton, Lynchburg and Norfolk, which no longer observe the holiday.

It would be more accurate to say that the city council will make official what is already the case in practice. As a resident of Charlottesville for eleven years before moving to Boston in 2011 I can say with confidence that very few people formally acknowledged the holiday. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find any formal recognition of the holiday throughout the state beyond the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other heritage groups. They will and should continue to honor Lee and Jackson in a way that they deem fitting.

The story will make the local newspaper tomorrow, but that will be it. Apart from a few people in and around town no one will take notice. The Virginia Flaggers may make good on their threat to raise a Confederate flag in town, but to the discerning viewer that will only highlight the inevitable retreat of Confederate symbols in public places around the Commonwealth and beyond. Continue reading “The Fate of Lee-Jackson Day in Charlottesville”

Remembering Slavery Alongside Confederate Heritage in Richmond

While the Virginia Flaggers have made a name for themselves for their insistence that a Confederate flag fly on the grounds of the Soldiers’ Home, along the Boulevard in Richmond, others have also taken an interest in the history of the site. A student from the Agua Dulce Dance Theater recently performed an interpretive dance in front of the Robinson House to explore its connection to the history of slavery. Continue reading “Remembering Slavery Alongside Confederate Heritage in Richmond”