The Confederate States of America, eventually including thirteen southern former states of the United States of America south of the so-called Mason-Dixon line, were represented by three different flags from 1861-1865, representations of which are still incorporated in the flags of Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, while hinted at in the state flag of Arkansas. Recently, at funeral services for the nine murder victims at a South Carolina church, President Barack Obama described the confederate flag as “a reminder of systemic oppression and racial subjugation”
"If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views."
Lincoln's mumbo-jumbo not withstanding, the 400 year practice of Africans selling Africans into western hemisphere slavery, providing the economic engine for cotton and other agricultural crops is a huge blemish on humankind. The purchase of slaves and their continued servitude by affluent Americans is a national disgrace and a perversion of Constitutional values hypocritically embraced.
Many, many of the so-called founding fathers owned slaves, including Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Patrick Henry, John Jay, James Madison, George Washington and, of course, Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson is claimed to have fathered six children with his slave, Sally Hemings. Their descendants posed for the picture at the left in 1999.
|Descendents of Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings in 1999|
For those enslaved and those born into such slavery in the United States, the Confederacy and its flag came to symbolize their slavery, their misery, their oppression. Otherwise liberal Southern whites countered by saying that the Confederate flag simply represented Southern heritage, Southern culture, not realizing that blacks with Southern ancestries just as lengthy were not included in that heritage or culture.
In 1970, Neil Young, a rock 'n roller from Canada, released the song, Southern Man, clearly aimed at racism in the United States:
Better keep your head
What your good book said
Gonna come at last
Now your crosses
Are burning fast
I saw cotton
And I saw black
Tall white mansions
And little shacks.
When will you
Pay them back?
I heard screamin'
And bullwhips cracking
How long? How long?
After Young followed up with another anti-racist tune, Alabama, a southern blues/rock band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, issued a musical response of their own, Sweet Home Alabama. Here are the pertinent, mock-argument lyrics:
Well, I heard Mr. Young sing about her
Well, I heard ol' Neil put her down
Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
A Southern man don't need him around anyhow
Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet home Alabama
Lord, I'm coming home to you
In Birmingham they love the governor, boo boo boo
Now we all did what we could do
Now Watergate does not bother me
Does your conscience bother you? Tell the truth