Written by: Camren J. Harris
As the recent tragedy involving the mass shooting of nine African Americans while attending Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina continues to plague the hearts of millions, the shooter has been in photographs proudly honoring the Confederate Battle Flag. This heartbreaking incident has made Americans examine this flag and has left the country with the challenging question; what does the Confederate Battle Flag really stand for?
Southern white American supporters are claiming that the Confederate Battle Flag represents history, tradition, heritage, and pride for the South. As an African American, it is virtually impossible for someone of my race and culture to not be disturbed and concerned by some of the responses from the flags’ supporters.
My grandparents’ who hail from the South, (Holly Springs Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee) have five children, nineteen grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren. It is safe to say that I have a big family. Although we may be large in numbers, there are family traditions that we all hold close to our hearts and knowing our family history is imperative to us. I am completely aware of the importance of knowing ones history, I am cognizant of the significance of traditions, and I even agree that the Confederate Battle Flag represents American history, but everything about American history is not glorious.
The history of the Confederate Battle Flag represents a dark time in our nation, one of many obscure times in history for African Americans. The painful red hue within the Confederate Battle Flag is an agonizing reminder of the massive amounts of blood that was shed by the hundreds of African Americans who were beaten, raped and lynched by members of the Confederate Army. This flag is a consistent recap of those who captured, sold and marginalized thousands of people within a country that was created on principles of equality for all.
Etched within every thread of the Confederate Battle Flag repeats the words of Alexander H. Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederate States, “the negro is not equal to the white man.” Each strain is a representation of the six Confederate veterans who founded the Ku Klux Klan, whose main purpose was to restore white supremacy by any means necessary, which included the killing of African Americans. Some fail to realize that the Confederate Battle Flag is not one of the three national flags that were created to represent the heritage or history of the Confederacy.
This specific flag was created to represent the Confederacy in combat, where lives were aimed to be taken. This flag was not to represent the Confederacy as a whole, but precisely for the Army of Northern Virginia, Robert E. Lee’s army, who was the General in chief of the Armies of the Confederate States.
Camren J. Harris is a native of Columbus, Ohio and a recent graduate of Capital University where he received a bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Sociology. On campus Camren was a member of Capital University’s Student Government where he served as the Governance Committee Chair and Senior Class Representative. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. where he served as Chapter President of the Omicron Rho Chapter. This past semester he interned at the Ohio House of Representatives as a Democratic Caucus Page. This summer Camren will be interning in the office of Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11).