Byron Thomas, a black South Carolinian, wrote a column in the Washington Post today about why he supports the Confederate flag.
Byron states that the flag represents his heritage and regional pride. One of his ancestors was a black Confederate cook and he doesn’t want to turn his back on his ancestors service to the South.
Four years ago, I became a national news story after I hung a Confederate flag in my dorm room window at the University of South Carolina Beaufort. Controversy wasn’t my intention. For me and many Southerners, the flag celebrates my heritage and regional pride. One of my ancestors, Benjamin Thomas, was a black Confederate cook, and I do not want to turn my back on his service to the South. So I hang the flag in honor of his hard work and dedication to South Carolina during the Civil War.
My Confederate flag isn’t racist; after all, I am black. I’m also an American who strongly believes in the constitutional right to free speech. I fought back against the university’s demand that I take my flag down simply because others view it as a symbol of racism. I fought back against the racist interpretation of the flag and I won.
Now there’s a similar debate about the Confederate flag that flies over South Carolina’s statehouse. In the wake of the Charleston church shooting and pictures of the accused killer posing with the Confederate flag, people have demanded the flag be permanently removed from the statehouse grounds. I deeply respect and honor the nine people whose lives were lost in that church, who died with love in their hearts even though evil was among them. I felt that lowering the flag would give power to the racist terrorist who killed them. For a long time, it bothered me that every time someone raised the Confederate flag, someone else fought to have it removed. Racists hijacked the Confederate flag, and by effectively banning it on college campuses and government grounds, we would allow them to keep it.
Mr. Thomas realizes that the Confederate flag causes a lot of unease among many black South Carolinians and now states that only two flags should be flying on the statehouse grounds: the South Carolina flag and the American flag.
Regardless of what happens at the statehouse, I will continue to hang the Confederate flag in my apartment. Because of that decision, I’ve been called “an Uncle Tom” and “a sellout,” and accused of despising my race. Let me be clear: I love the skin that I am in. God gave me my skin color, but he also gave me freedom to think for myself and the right to stand by my beliefs. My skin color should not determine how I think, what I believe and what flags I hang in my home. This process should teach us all to respect the beliefs of others. I hope those who view the Confederate flag as a symbol of hate will keep open minds to those who view it as a symbol of Southern heritage and history, regardless of their race.
I have never known of a black person who supports or loves the Confederate flag. That flag is too much of a reminder of the segregated and racist past of the south. It was also used by racists groups to show their superiority towards blacks. Even if I did have an ancestor who was on the Confederate side during the Civil War the last thing I would be doing is supporting the Confederate flag.
While checking more info on Google about Mr. Thomas I found this at Newsone:
Check out Byron Thomas’s column at the Washington Post.