These Colors Don't Run: An Examination of the Confederate Flag's Place in Modern America

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Synk, Peter M
Confederate Flag; American South; Racism; Heritage; SCV; American Studies; Regional Sociology; Social Psychology and Interaction; Sociology
thesis / dissertation description
Few symbols are as revered and despised by Americans as the Confederate Battle Flag. Loosely derived from the Saint Andrew’s cross and used by the Confederacy in the Civil War, the flag has been used in a plethora of ways in the 20th century. The motives of the south in the Civil War and the popularity of the flag amongst ardent segregationists starting in 1948 have led many, including the NAACP, to call for its removal from all public spaces. The flag has taken on a cultural meaning that carried it across the country and to Europe, where some behind the Iron Curtain used it to oppose Soviet rule. Additionally, many younger people no longer associate the flag with the Civil War at all (Reed 1995). To thoroughly analyze the place of the flag in American society, this paper examines its history and several social theories that can explain its popularity. It then examines public perception of the flag by asking people on the street about the flag in short face-to-face interviews at settings in the north and south where Confederate imagery is present. The paper then ask members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans their thoughts on the flag and its place in society.