New Confederate Flag Bill Raises Questions


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A Confederate Memorial Monument at the Alabama's State Capitol.

Sonia Rao, Staff Writer

We all know what the Confederate flag symbolizes.  It has been pictured in countless history textbooks and historical documentaries, reminding us of the conflict that almost split our country to the core.  To many, the Confederate flag is a symbol of the slavery that was at the root of this country not too long ago.  However, last Wednesday, the governor of Alabama signed into effect a law that prohibited the removal of Confederate monuments in the state.

Although the law did not explicitly state that this was the purpose, the Alabama Preservation Act was approved by state legislature after the city of New Orleans removed four Confederate monuments.  Under this new law, it is prohibited for local governments to remove historical monuments and rename public buildings/streets that have been in place for forty years- including Confederate monuments.  There are at least nine Confederate monuments in Alabama that are protected under this new law.

According to Alabama state senator Gerald Allen, “The Memorial Preservation Act is intended to preserve all of Alabama’s history — the good and the bad — so our children and grandchildren can learn from the past to create a better future.”  He first filed the bill in 2016 after a conflict around displaying the Confederate flag arose when nine black people were murdered at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina by a white supremacist shooter carrying with him pictures of the aforementioned flag.  After this incident, Alabama Governor Rob Bentley removed Confederate flags from around the state Capitol.

This bill is a clear rights violation of the African-American population in Alabama, which makes up about 25% of the state’s total population.  It is wrong that the same symbol that motivated a young man to murder nine innocent black citizens in Charleston, SC can be also be touted as a proud symbol of Alabaman history. That groups are still trying to protect this blatant modern-day racism and white supremacism is befuddling.

Critics of this law argue that although historical preservation is important, symbols such as the Confederate flag do not reflect our nations’s core message of liberty and equality.  Those who oppose the bill suggest instead of leaving these monuments on public property, to place them in historical museums where people can learn the full history and effect of slavery, the Civil War, and the Confederacy.  No matter your opinion on the subject, it is clear that racism and prejudice still continue to cloud our country, and it needs to stop.

A country united stands much stronger than a country divided, and right now, I am not sure where America stands.