Confederate Flags Removed from Alabama Capitol Grounds
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley ordered the removal of all Confederate flags from the Confederate Memorial Monument that stands on the grounds of the state Capitol, making him the first Southern governor to completely remove the flag from the state capitol.
The four flags (three national flags and one battle flag) were removed Wednesday morning by executive order. "It has become a distraction all over the country right now," the Governor said. "Off and on, it’s always been a distraction."
First, kudos to the governor for making this decision.
Second, I am truly surprised by the move and am intrigued by the speed at which the current reaction to this symbol is unfolding.
It seems as if the current debate has caused a lot of people to finally stop and realize why the battle flag is such a problematic symbol.
Also, a related story notes the history of the flag and the Alabama capitol:
April 25, 1963: The Confederate Naval Jack flag was raised over the Capitol on the day when Attorney General Robert Kennedy met Gov. George Wallace inside the Capitol. It wasn’t removed after this visit.
During this time, the American flag was flown from a flag pole on the south lawn. The Alabama flag and Confederate Naval Jack were on the dome.
So, again: here we see the direct relationship of the flag as a clear symbol of opposition to desegregation.
The timeline continues:
1975: Alvin Holmes filed suit to require the American flag be flown from the highest position. A federal district court said the Flag Code suggests, but does not require, the American flag to be flown from the highest position.
Wallace made the decision to fly the U.S. flag from the highest point. The Alabama flag was below it followed by the Confederate Naval Jack.
1976: Alvin Holmes filed a suit against Wallace and others to prohibit the flying of the Confederate flag over the Capitol. The federal district court ruled against Holmes.
1988: The NAACP, Alvin Holmes and others filed a lawsuit against Gov. Guy Hunt seeking to remove the Confederate battle flag from the State Capitol grounds. The district court again ruled against Holmes.
Late 1980s-Early 1990s: The Alabama Capitol was flying the U.S., Alabama and Confederate battle flags. All three were taken down due to a massive renovation of the capitol in the early 1990s.
Alvin Holmes and other legislators filed a third lawsuit using a different argument than the first two (1976 and 1988). They argued that an Alabama law from 1975 doesn’t allow for the flying of any flag above the Capitol other than the U.S. and Alabama flags.
Jan. 4, 1993: Circuit Judge William Gordon rules in favor of Alvin Holmes. Judge ordered Alabama law allows only the state and national flag be flown over Alabama’s capitol and enjoined the governor from raising the Confederate, or any other flag.
So, again, when one wishes to argue that the flag is a symbol of “heritage” it is important to realize what that specific heritage contains.