In this episode, my friend Alice Moore and I visit a Confederate cemetery in Corinth, Mississippi. Alice tells me about her love for the battle flag.
In our conversation, we soon learn that you can’t talk about the flag without also talking about people’s ideas about the War and slavery and racism … and whether our ancestors were on the right side of history. This program features Cornell University history professor Ed Baptist, who has a view of the South’s history that differs from that of Alice.
And we dig into another beloved southern icon – the song Dixie.
In recognition of the sesquicentennial of the ending of the American Civil War, Us & Them had been preparing a program about the emotionally charged icons of the Confederacy.
We decided to move up this release of the program because we felt that our program could be a part of the conversation sparked by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley calling for the Confederate battle flag to be taken down from that state’s capitol grounds.
Haley’s action came days after pictures had been circulating of the man who confessed to shooting nine African American people in a South Carolina church; he’s posing with Confederate flags. This led many people to call on South Carolina to stop flying the battle flag over its statehouse. Subsequently, lawmakers in other states are debating whether to remove the flag and other symbols of the Confederacy from public display and from license plates. And some big retailers say they’ll stop stocking it.
But experience has led me to believe that some people won’t let the Confederate flag go without a fight. For years, I’ve wondered why some people have such a deep affection for the flag and other symbols of the Old South. This program tries to examine this.