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An old symbol that makes some proud and infuriates others, the Confederation flag is losing its place of prominence 155 years after the southern states of the United States were defeated in a war in which they sought to perpetuate slavery.

The Republican-controlled Mississippi legislature voted Sunday to remove that rebel Civil War emblem from the state flag, a measure that had been brewing for years and that came true in the blink of an eye on in the middle of a national debate around racial inequalities, sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of the state police.

Mississippi was the last state to have that symbol on its flag.

The NASCAR category of motorsports, a popular southern product in that region, banned carrying that rebel flag to their careers this month, and some towns in the south removed monuments and statues honoring the Confederate cause. There had already been a similar campaign five years ago, motivated by the killing of nine black people in a church in Charleston, South Carolina. A white supremacist was convicted of the killing.

Make no mistake: The Confederation flag has not disappeared in the south. If you don’t believe it, go down one of the highways where members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans erected gigantic war flags or stop by the Dixie General Store, where Bob Castello lives by selling T-shirts, car accessories, and other items alluding to Southern rebels in an Alabama county named after a Confederate officer, General Patrick Cleburne.

“We are selling a lot right now,” Castello said Monday.

Castello himself, however, is amazed at the impact of the protests against police brutality, which appear to be ending generations of worship for the Confederacy flag. He wonders what will happen now.

“This could go on,” he said. “This has no limits.”

The Confederation was founded in Montgomery in 1861. Its constitution prohibited “denying or undermining the right to property of black slaves”. The south lost the civil war, slavery was abolished, and since then Confederation supporters say the war was not about slavery, but instead defended a “lost cause” that revolved around the rights of states and nobility and the honor of the south.

For some, the Confederate flag – with its red background, blue X, and white stars – is a symbol of Southern heritage and pride. The band Alabama included him on the covers of five of their albums in the 1980s and 1990s, at the height of their popularity.

Patty Howard, who visited a gigantic carved sculpture of Confederate generals in Georgia’s Stone Mountain Park on Monday with her husband Toby, said the flag does not offend them, but they also do not display it in front of their home in Hendersonville, Carolina. North.

“I don’t see it as something associated with slavery,” said Howard, 71. “For us, it represents the south.”

The flag has its dark side. It has been shaken for decades by the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and other white supremacists who oppose equal rights. The use of the flag by these groups, combined with the increasingly widespread feeling that the time has come to remove that symbol from a defeated nation once and for all, encourages change.

“The discussion about the 1894 flag is as divisive as the flag itself and it is time to end this,” said Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, referring to the current state flag, adopted by the legislature at a time when supremacists Whites suppressed the political power that African Americans had gained after the civil war.

Georgia, which incorporated the emblem into its state flag in 1956, in response to a Supreme Court decision to abolish segregation in public schools, adopted a flag without a rebel symbol in 2003.

Alabama had the rebel flag on its Capitol until 1993, when it was withdrawn by protests by black lawmakers. More Confederate flags were removed from a massive Confederation monument outside the building in 2015, when South Carolina also removed its war flag from the Capitol after the Charleston massacre.

It took Mississippi longer. After that episode, House Speaker Philip Gunn, a Republican, said it was time to remove the symbol. People resisted him, saying “let the flag stay and the president of the chamber leave.” Gunn survived and was re-elected twice.

In recent weeks, Gunn and Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann, also a Republican, have convinced numerous lawmakers from both parties that it was time to change the flag.

___

Associated Press reporters Kate Brumback (Stone Mountain, Georgia) and Emily Wagster Pettus (Jackson, Mississippi) contributed to this report.

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Pentagon Draft Policy Would Ban Confederate Flag Displays

By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A draft policy being circulated by Pentagon leaders would ban the display of the Confederate flag in Defense Department workplaces or public areas by service members and civilian personnel.

The policy, which has not yet been finalized or signed by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, comes as President Donald Trump earlier in the day criticized NASCAR’s decision to ban the flag at its races and venues. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the draft.

If approved, the draft Pentagon policy would bring the other military services in line with the Marine Corps, which banned Confederate displays on its bases in early June. Other military services had been poised to make similar decisions, but they were stalled when Esper said he wanted a review of the matter that would come up with a consistent department policy.

According to officials, the draft was sent out to service leaders for their input and response last week.

According to the draft, a ban would preserve “the morale of our personnel, good order and discipline within the military ranks and unit cohesion.” It notes that a “significant” population of service members and their families are minorities and “it is beyond doubt” that many “take grave offense at such a display.”

Trump, in a tweet Monday, said that NASCAR's “Flag decision” and the uproar over a noose found hanging in the garage of the sport's only full-time Black driver were driving the sports' ratings down. And he suggested that Bubba Wallace should apologize after the sport rallied around him after the noose was found in his assigned stall at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.

Federal authorities ruled last month the noose had been hanging since October and was not a hate crime. NASCAR and the FBI have exclusively referred to the rope — which was used to pull the garage door closed -– as a noose.

The Pentagon draft says the ban applies to public displays of the flag on installations and facilities that are under department control, and would not apply to things like license plates or monuments not governed by the Pentagon.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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