A Conversation About the Confederate Battle Flag

This video is worth watching in its entirety. It features a young African American female rap artist, who goes by the name Genesis B. She is originally from Biloxi, Mississippi, but now lives and performs in New York City. After protesting Mississippi’s refusal to change its state flag Be flew back to Mississippi to explore the flag’s legacy and its impact on her community. At the end is a wonderful conversation between Be and a childhood friend, who is descended from Confederate soldiers and a supporter of the flag.

It’s a wonderful example of the kinds of conversations that we should and can have about this subject.

[Uploaded to YouTube on March 14, 2017]

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“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

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9 comments… add one
  • Forester Mar 15, 2017 @ 9:28

    You wrote a blog in 2011 where you said, “It’s possible to honor one’s Confederate ancestors and still be glad they lost,” and I think that applies here. I don’t think the flag needs to be separated from its full history when used in a proper memorial context.

    What is wrong with saying something like: “This flag/monument honors men who died for an ignoble cause, believing it was right in the context of their times.”

    Such a viewpoint neither dishonors the men nor perpetuates any illusions about what they fought for.

  • bob carey Mar 14, 2017 @ 11:44

    Excellent post.
    I was particularly impressed by two statements, her saying that she recognizes the right to fly the CBF on private property, this shows that she respects the rights of people she might disagree with.
    Him saying that if the Mississippi flag changes his heritage doesn’t change whatsoever. Such a simple statement yet so true. Symbols do not change heritage or history.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 14, 2017 @ 11:48

      I thought both were incredibly thoughtful and really tried to understand the other’s perspective.

      • Msb Mar 15, 2017 @ 3:22

        Very true. Thanks for the chance to listen to a thoughtful discussion based on good will.

  • Meg Groeling Mar 14, 2017 @ 9:02

    Thanks, again.

  • Scott Ledridge Mar 14, 2017 @ 8:32

    Her friend seems to genuinely care for her and her feelings. Hopefully, that wasn’t just show for her benefit. But, if it wasn’t, I think it underscores the need for the historical context to be understood correctly. If he’s genuine, then I believe a better understanding would lead him to be more empathetic with her.

    I’d never heard “I’m a Good Ol’ Rebel”. Looked it up… wow.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 14, 2017 @ 8:38

      One point of historical context that I have stressed is with the assumption that at some point the Confederate battle flag was appropriated for purposes that conflict directly with its use during the Civil War as simply a soldiers’ flag. Of course, the flag’s meaning to the men in individual regiments and its role during battle is absolutely essential to any full history of the symbol. At the same time I have suggested that it is impossible to fully separate the soldiers’ flag from the broader goals of the Confederacy. There is no army without a government. There is no victory for the Confederate army that isn’t also a victory for the Confederate government. That victory would mean the perpetuation of slavery.

  • Ethan Kytle Mar 14, 2017 @ 7:52

    Thanks for posting this, Kevin.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 14, 2017 @ 7:57

      You are very welcome.

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