Opinion: Confederate flag should have been removed long ago

Emily Mills is a senior journalism major and the editor of The Kent Stater. Contact her at emills11@kent.edu. 

Emily Mills is a senior journalism major and the editor of The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

Emily Mills

A 21-year-old white man walked into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, around 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 18, and sat through the historic black church’s Bible study. 

An hour later, the man stood up and allegedly announced he was there to kill black people. Officials report he opened fire, killing nine people, including pastor and state Senator Clementa Pinckney.

Pinckney’s funeral procession went past the South Carolina Statehouse, where a Confederate flag flew above the crowd.

Many were disgusted that a man killed because of his race had to pass under a flag that represented a confederacy known for its mistreatment of the African-American race: the Confederate States of America.

Citizens across the country have called for its removal from statehouses and stores.

South Carolina legislators will vote next week to decide whether or not the Confederate flag will be removed from in front of the Statehouse after Gov. Nikki Haley and other Republican officials have called for its removal. The vote will require a two-thirds majority for the flag to be removed.

In Alabama, Gov. Robert Bentley ordered the removal of four Confederate flags from a monument on the state’s capitol grounds.

In Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia, Govs. Nathan Deal, Bill Haslam and Terry McAuliffe, respectively, ordered a halt to the Sons of Confederate Veterans license plates, which feature the Confederate flag.

Mississippi’s state flag features the Confederate flag in its upper left corner, and State House Speaker Philip Gunn said the flag should be changed. 

Wal-mart, Sears and Amazon have said they will stop selling Confederate flag merchandise.

The first Confederate flag was created in 1861 during the American Civil War as the flag of the Confederate States of America, which seceded from the United States.

That flag, which has two red stripes, one white stripe and seven white stars on a blue field in the top left corner, had seven stars to represent the seven seceding states: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. 

It was decided the flag was too similar to the Union’s Stars and Stripes, so the flag went through a few transformations during the Civil War.

The flag known today as the Confederate flag is actually a Confederate battle flag known as the Southern Cross, featuring 13 white stars, representing the 13 defeated Confederate States of America, on a blue X on a red background.

As we learned in our elementary school history classes, the Confederate States of America came into existence because the North wanted to abolish slavery and the South did not. The debate led into a bloody civil war that killed 620,000 Americans.

Some sources say as many as 60 million people died in the Atlantic slave trade, a business the CSA was willing to continue.

Flying the Confederate flag in the United States is the same as if the Nazi flag was flown in Germany. Both flags represent torture, suffering and death for millions of people: the Jews in Europe and African-American slaves in the United States.

Although the United States has freedom of speech, we shouldn’t force American citizens to constantly relive such a dark part of our history.

We shouldn’t confront grieving family members and friends with such a negative symbol while they are remembering their slain loved ones.

It’s time to take the flag down, everywhere and permanently.