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Not Forgotten The Confederate Battle Flag: A Symbol of Southern Heritage and Identity An Excerpt by Clyde N. Wilson I remember my own father and uncles returning from World War II with stories of how southerners, particularly rural and working-class ones, were denigrated and ridiculed by conscripted urbanit├ęs for their speech, manners, attitudes. There was a general cultural attack at the time on "hillbillies." This was the beginning of their sectional consciousness I am sure, which had hardly existed before, as it was of mine. It was after this that we began to display the Confederate battle flag at times from the front porch. It was ten years before Brown v. Board ofEducation, and had nothing to do with the Dixiecrat movement or with football. These things, all together, brought a sense of southern identity to the forefront of consciousness, and the battle flag was the obvious symbol of this identity. Time, and the success of the civil rights movement and other great changes, have done nothing to diminish this. Rather to the contrary. The fact that the United States is increasingly a multicultural empire, rather than a federal republic, will make ethnic identities, including the southern identity, even sharper in the future, and the negotiation of these identities much more complex. Imagine, for instance, the symbolic struggles that are in the offing in a few years when Hispanics will be a larger minority than African Americans. In recent years, I have spoken often to meetings of the Sons of Confederate Veterans , United Daughters of the Confederacy, Civil War roundtables, various heritage groups, places full of defenders and displayers of the battle flag. My impression is that for most of these good Americans, the flag is a symbol not of white supremacy, but of identification with their own ancestors and heritage and an affirmation of their own identity. ...


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