The Confederate Flag as a Bi-Racial Symbol
The Confederate Flag
The Confederate Flag is also referred to as the “Southern Cross” which was the official flag of the 13 states of the south who wished to secede from the Union or the United States of America. The “Southern Cross” was the official banner of the Southern Confederacy from 1861 until the Civil War ended in 1865.
Immediately following the surrender of Fort Sumter by the Union, the “Stars and Stripes” flying over Fort Sumter was shot at until it disintegrated. It was replaced by the “Stars and Bars” flag. The “Stars and Bars” had two red stripes separating a white stripe and a blue square in the corner with a circle of stars. The “Stars and Bars” was the flag of the Southern Confederacy at this time.
Soon after the surrender of Fort Sumter, a forty foot “Stars and Bars” flag was erected in front of the Marshall Hotel which was in Virginia but was visible from the US Capitol in Washington DC. It was confirmed that this hotel was actually leased by a southern innkeeper named James Jackson because the Marshall Hotel faced the nation’s capitol. James Jackson erected a tall flagpole and flew the 40 foot flag and announced that he would die before he would surrender the flag. Colonel Elmer Ellsworth reportedly assured Mary Todd Lincoln he would remove the flag himself. There are various accounts of details. The one indisputable detail is that James Jackson and Colonel Elmer Ellsworth died in the gun battle over the removal of this flag.
· The confederate flag became notorious at this incident and the negotiations that created the “Southern Cross” from the “Stars and Bars are quite interesting. Initially, the cross had a more Christian appearance and appeared as a Christian cross in the upper right corner of the flag. The cross was circled by stars representing the southern states and the background was white. It was argued that the bible was the best means of establishing slavery’s basic legitimacy. Southerners charged that the abolitionists were abandoning God’s word and ignoring that slavery had been a sanctioned institution both in ancient Israel and early Christian Rome. The most effective argument against the upright Christian cross on the flag was from a Jewish business man named; “Charles Moise.” Charles Moise argued: “The flag of a country ought certainly to be regarded with affection and reverence by all classes of people composing the nation.” At this time there were about 25,000 Jews living in the Confederacy. It is also interesting to note that the slave states in 1860 did not boast a larger church going population than any other region in the U.S.
Following Mr. Moise’s argument, the confederate flag became square in shape with white diagonal stripes from corner to corner. Inside the stripes were blue stripes with a total of 13 gold stars, a star in the middle and six stars on each blue stripe.
There was not much more controversy surrounding the “Southern Cross” until the passage of the “Fair Housing Act” in 1974 which followed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. More recently, a controversy arose when the first African American Cheerleader for the University of Mississippi refused to wave the Southern Cross as part of her cheerleading responsibilities in 1990.
A new effort includes using the confederate flag as a “bi-racial symbol. A clothing company called “Nu-South” which features the Southern Cross in the colors of the African National Liberation on its labels and some of its clothing line. The designer of this logo says: “The South is our Ellis Island; that’s how we came into this country.” The designer also says: “We will take the opposition’s worst image and wear it with pride.” Nu-South founders add: “by wearing the flag, you look at it, you pronounce it, taste it, chew it, and digest it. You embrace it and make it mean something else.”