Chamblee54

Rhetoric Over History

Posted in Georgia History, GSU photo archive, Politics, Race by chamblee54 on August 28, 2020


The symbolic fight today is over Confederate monuments. The high octane rhetoric is heard loud and clear. There is even historic revisionism. “…the real motivation was: to physically symbolize white terror against blacks.” PG finds this reasoning tough to believe. It sounds like another argument, from another symbolic battle. History likes to repeat herself.

In 1993, a movement emerged to change the Georgia state flag. At the time, the Saint Andrews cross, aka the Confederate flag, was on one side of the flag. Many people were offended by this flag, Many people liked this flag, and wanted to keep it. The argument went on for a few years.

In 2001, a new flag was adopted. The 2001 flag was even uglier than the old flag. The 2001 flag was rammed through the legislature. Part of this change was a law, protecting state monuments. “When Georgia took the Confederate battle symbol off the state flag in 2001, part of the compromise lawmakers struck was a new state law that protected Confederate memorials and monuments from being removed, relocated or even altered.” This law did not apply to the state flag, which was changed again in 2003. The current flag is similar to another Confederate flag.

When the flag change movement got started, a bit of historic revision was introduced. The story was that the legislature changed the state flag as a protest against desegregation. The first page of google does not have any of the 1993 rhetoric. The talk was louder, and angrier, in 1993.

PG never did believe the argument that the flag was changed as a protest. PG accepted that the flag was offensive to many, and did not object to changing it. However, he does not like to be lied to. If the flag was offensive to a large part of the state, why would you need to rewrite history? The 1956 legislature was a gnarly bunch… crooked, alcoholic, racist, and overwhelmingly Democratic. If anything else, they were not smart enough to change the flag as a protest. In 1956, protest was not the national pastime. Not everything had a hidden meaning.

Microfilm may wear out, but it does not lie. PG found an article announcing the change in the Atlanta Constitution. There was no mention of protesting integration. The fishwrapper, and the politicians, spoke about honoring the Confederacy.

The argument over changing the state flag was totally symbolic. The issues that affect communities of color, and communities without color, were not affected. Economic opportunity, equitable justice, access to housing and education… none of these life or death issues were affected by having the Saint Andrews cross on the state flag. The squabbling over the state flag was a proxy fight over black vs white. Pictures today are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”. Most of today’s photos are from 1954 – 1956.

UPDATE This is a repost. The 1993 state flag debate was brought up during the 2018 Governor’s election from hell. The rhetoric was just as foolish as ever. PG took another look at the matter, found some new material, and came to the same conclusions.

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