The Transylvania Times -

Southern Pride Depends On Ending Racism


July 9, 2018

As one southerner to another I respond to Stanley Jefferson’s June 25 letter. I grew up in Vicksburg, Miss., where public offices closed on Confederate Memorial Day but remained open on July 4 because Vicksburg surrendered to Grant on July 4 and folks stood for “Dixie.” Like Jefferson, I take pride in my southern heritage.

However, I grieve the slavery and apartheid which followed, the attacks on civil rights demonstrators by crowds carrying Confederate flags and police with dogs and batons, and the bombing of black churches, often marked with a Confederate flag. Being in my high school’s first integrated class to graduate, I grieve the abuse my black classmates endured and my silence. I grieve stories shared by black friends of being beaten and called racial slurs by white gangs, denied entry into public places including restrooms in gas stations, and other ways to convince them of their worthlessness and their gut wrenching blending of pain and anger when having a Confederate flag waved in their faces.

Jefferson is correct that not all who display a Confederate flag are racist. However, every white supremacist group has two symbols: Confederate flag and Nazi swastika. Does Jefferson advocate German descendents parading swastikas? Not understanding an African American’s offense with someone parading the Confederate flag is no different than failing to understand someone Jewish taking offense by the parading of a swastika: both legal but arrogant and insensitive to fellow children of God.

Southern black and white lives have been more entwined than anywhere else and have struggled with how this works since our inception. I take pride Mississippi has the most elected black officials, has opened the Civil Rights Museum and erected a monument to murdered civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

Only after racism ends will all of southern heritage, white and black, truly be able to take pride in our heritage without also acknowledging our grief and guilt. Whether the person holding the flag intends it or not, the waving of a Confederate flag will always deter that day ever occurring.

Rev. Bill Livingston



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