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WWL>Topics>>11-7 9:10am Tommy, Confederate flag controversy

11-7 9:10am Tommy, Confederate flag controversy

Nov 7, 2013|

Tommy talks to Kevin Levin, a Civil War historian and author of "Remembering the Battle of the Crater," about the history of the Confederate flag

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

We'll salty Kevin Levin right now Alison instructive history -- -- an academy. He's a blogger at civil war memory and author of remembering the battle of the crater good morning Kevin. Good morning thanks -- taken a time when there's some I want it dances and you'll and so we get talk about. The historical significance of the flag to confederate flag somebody said what the flag. Meant then what it means now and go jump in wherever you feel comfortable. Absolutely actually are -- it looked like you've been very much in the news in the last few years. The first thing to remember we're in the middle of these civil war except with Centennial book and certain fiftieth anniversary of the war. The rhetoric of the civil war talk of secession and states right. You know have clearly entered the you political that the political debate the political sphere so the civil war I think is that you know. -- -- -- especially the last few years is very much on the minds of many people and and so that's the -- no accident the confederate flag has not so much -- a reappearance. In the public space but. Perhaps has been heightened. You know -- to any number of reasons especially especially politics. So when it comes to the two different confederate flag somebody's telling me that the Saint Andrews cross was one -- used and in battle when it comes in the south and slavery and and I guess it does the flag. For yourself which one are we talking about I think traditionally it's the it's the Saint Andrews cross has stood the flag and shape of an -- or at least what's on it. Bomb -- it is is that. What was a flag used for and against. The it was a south necessarily. And the civil war all about slavery. Well that's he got -- a bunch of questions are so that are sold to what I can but give them the question. The flight in question usually leave the battle like the confederate army namely the army of Northern Virginia Robert. And that of course is the one that is it constantly. In the news its popularity is is is definitely tied to the war itself so we can talk about that. But I think the controversy today really does stand out to the -- twentieth century because in the mid twentieth century especially puppet of the civil rights movement. It is that -- it's it's the screen actors crop that is that sort of re emerges as a symbol of massive resistance in other words. You know as African Americans are pushing for civil rights. Publicly of course you know on the state and national level that's like become the symbol of of -- white fell in many respects. So you would have seen it at parades a number of Islam of state especially in the deep south and -- -- 1950s. I'll put that flag atop the State Capitol. And of course the message was very clear it was they stand -- strong stance. States' rights there if you will again lead the encroachment of the federal government and also I think -- assemble all of a white supremacy acting for African Americans especially today. That is the that is the living memory. The confederate like not so much the civil war although I think one can make the case. That the army of north Virginia any confederate army operating. Between 1861 and 65. Was operating at the military arm of the government to confront our government Richmond. That whose stated goal was the preservation and expansion of slavery they don't shy away from saying that it's in the constitution. Its highest ranking official openly declare that to be there cause and so. Regardless of why individual soldiers join or draft and the army. That flag back up like that that that were still debating today is very much tied to the history of slavery and I think the post war. Legacy of slavery and the continuing. Debate we're challenge of dealing with race in America. And did the flag also take on -- -- in tattered flag also take on. A different meaning in this country in the fifties and sixties as far as he segregationist. Absolutely in fact I think you know -- -- you know if you look back at the history by the turn of the twentieth century the confederate flag is. -- he could've found it found it in public spaces but very limited. You know confederate veterans. Who are. You know -- -- pending reunion in the 1880s and 1890s. You know that's like would have been unveiled that would have been unveiled a special occasions. But it was not. He was it was not -- anyway. You know as visible symbol. I think -- congress controversial even the simplest becomes in the 1950s. That really is the turning point for the history of of that particular slide. And of course you have the confederate do you have any number of flights. You know various national flag. The route. The the history of the confederacy but it's really that unit here is brought that is the hot button issue. And it's because of the history of that flight 1950s. And beyond. Who was the cells and those that supported slavery. It generally. Concerned -- are thought of -- people that came from Africa or slaves is less than human or was it primarily about. Free labor and they really care who was so long as there on now on the balance sheet on the expense I didn't have to pay anybody. Yeah -- you know the complicated question but I think we can we can at least say that slavery especially in the south especially in the deep south. Really does sort of structure everything about that society. Whether or not your slave owner or not. That line between white block that line between the races to go free and -- free it -- -- -- -- citizen. Who was not my fault outside of the citizenry. And of course. Just in terms of slavery as a lever system you know you are for the most part apart from a small number of free blacks who are of course legal property. And didn't you know. -- slave holders benefit in any number of ways from the slave system but all of them. All white southerners now have one thing in common and that is that they understand the dangers of losing slavery and they have any number of events in their history to go back to from Nat Turner's bloody rebellion in Virginia and 1831. To slave rebellions in the Caribbean. Earlier than 81820. And even earlier than that and of course John Brown's famous raid at Harper's Ferry in 1859. In which attempting to arm. Slaves and to convince them to rise up against -- masters in Virginia and further south. So that by the time of Abraham Lincoln's election white southerners. Really sort of they'd come to sort of pinpoint the election of Republicans somebody pledged to. At least stop the expansion of slavery. As a danger to -- way of life economically socially politically. Their way -- -- is clearly under threat but that's not consecutive is an important point that is not to say that northerners that white northerners. See this war from the beginning as a war -- -- slavery most white northerners were joining the army early on are joining to preserve the union and that sort of an idea I think many Americans today. We have trouble sort of raping our heads around. And but they are to winning you know for the union to preserve -- experiments in in democracy only leader in the war that slavery becomes. A way to preserve the union by by beginning to America paid slaves in certain areas and that by the end of the war of course. We create this system has completely unravel. Kevin partly -- on -- -- them before we go to their time's limited as there are in this anymore of a sociological question -- a historical one but at what point. Did you white people begin to look at people of color as inferior when. -- in his -- trying to say in my own clumsy way how can you look down on somebody for not knowing how to read when. If they learned how to read that was really get yourself killed right. Another good question and you know it would take another another show to answer like I think. White southerners clearly believe -- Americans generally believed in the mid nineteenth century. A that there was an actual racial hierarchy that they live there and whether they were slave owners or not. They acknowledge that and even in the North African Americans do not have the same right. As free whites and of course much of that have to do with sort of how they are perceived both intellectually. And morally and so. I think look like today it continued residences -- the continued debate today. It's still active at its heart about American coming to terms with the very difficult history of race. In their history. Evidence been a pleasure talking they'll -- come on again. My pleasure.

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