Changing The Flag

Posted in Georgia History, GSU photo archive, Politics, Race by chamblee54 on May 3, 2015









This is a recycled post from 2008. It was written in first person. The issue discussed has mostly faded away, except for a few hardcore cranks. Politicians have found new issues to distract voters when they want to make crooked deals, especially when the Governor is a crooked Deal. Pictures are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.

In 1994 I was working in downtown Atlanta. I represented my company in a customer’s office, and there was often time with nothing to do. At the very least, there was no time clock and an hour lunch could slip into overtime with few consequences.

There was an issue in the news in 1994, along with some claims that I did not believe. This issue was whether, or not, to change the state flag. One day, I went to the library, and sat down with the microfilms of the Atlanta Constitution (Covers Dixie Like the Dew) for the Winter of 1956.

One of the fun things about doing research is the things you were not looking for. Elvis Presley made a personal appearance at the Fox Theater. Atlanta Blue opened a facility on West Peachtree Street. There was speculation about whether Dwight Eisenhower would have a different Vice President in the next election. Mr. President had a heart attack in 1955. Many did not want Richard Nixon to be President. 1994 was 20 years after Mr. Nixon resigned the Presidency in disgrace. You wonder how things might have been different if Mr. Eisenhower found a new Vice President.

1956 was two years after Brown vs. The Board of Education, and many were concerned about school desegregation. A bill was proposed in the legislature to make it a felony to advocate integration.

The Governor at the time was Marvin Griffin. Georgia Tech played Pittsburgh in the Sugar Bowl that year, in spite of the fact that Pittsburgh had a black player. The Governor strongly objected, but was overruled. The game was played without incident.

The State of Georgia changed the state flag that year. The new flag had the state seal on a blue stripe next to the St. Andrews Cross, the battle flag of the Confederate States of America.

In 1994 many wanted to change that flag. Some said that it was a symbol of slavery and oppression; others said it was a reminder of battlefield valor. A native southerner, I could appreciate both points of view. I was neutral regarding a change of the flag.

One thing that I did not understand was an argument made for changing the flag. The line in those days…first expressed by Governor Zell Miller and endlessly repeated by the local fishwrapper media … was that the flag had been changed as a protest against desegregation.

I did not believe that for a minute. The legislature in 1956 was not that smart. They were a bunch of white males who were, with a few exceptions, racist, alcoholic crooks. If someone had suggested a flag change as a stand of defiance against desegregation, they might have thought it a good idea, but I somehow doubt that anyone thought like that. This was 1956. The sixties, where protest became the new national pastime, were a few years away.

After a few minutes of searching through the department store ads and sports pages, I found what I was looking for…. the article announcing the flag change. There was no mention of a protest against desegregation. They announced it as a way of honoring the Confederacy. This is in keeping with the times. Georgia in 1956 was still recovering from the War, and the Cult of Honoring the Confederacy was strong. Fergit Hell!

The flag was eventually changed during the administration of Governor Roy Barnes. The new flag was even uglier than the old one, which I did not think was possible. Sonny Perdue defeated Mr. Barnes in his bid for reelection, in no small part because he proposed a referendum on the flag. He forgot this promise as soon as he got into office, but the flag was changed once again.

flag display 050315










6 Responses

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  1. City Flags | Chamblee54 said, on May 15, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    […] about 10 days for your order to ship.” The subject of government flags is controversial in Georgia. Up until a few years ago, the state flag had the St. Andrews Cross. To the right was a blue strip, […]

  2. Stars And Bars | Chamblee54 said, on June 21, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    […] This was 1956. The sixties, where protest became the new national pastime, were a few years away. PG did some research, and found a newspaper article from February 1956 announcing the new flag. The article did not […]

  3. Georgia Statehood Day | Chamblee54 said, on January 2, 2016 at 9:41 am

    […] the Pennsylvania Gazette, routinely ran ads for sale or purchase of slaves. The concept of flying the state flag has an ironic twist in Georgia. The design of the flag has changed twice in the last fifteen years. […]

  4. Changing The Flag | Chamblee54 said, on May 10, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    […] is a repost, with pictures from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University […]

  5. […] legislature in 1956. PG remembers 1993, when the initial proposal to change the flag was made. Changing The Flag is an account of those years. If you have a minute, you should read that post before going any […]

  6. […] memo ~ living with dolly parton ~ The Oglethorpe Atlanta Crypt of Civilization Time Capsule ~ changing the flag ~ twitter thread @KevinMKruse No, she burned the old *Georgia* flag, which had been designed […]

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