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This July 4th, Confederate Flags Expected to Fly In Texas Independence Day Parades Despite Controversy

( [email protected] ) Jul 03, 2015 07:29 PM EDT
This Fourth of July, the Texas division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has announced that several of its members plan to march in parades across the state, carrying the Confederate battle flag.
Confederate battle flags fly outside the museum at the Confederate Memorial Park in Mountain Creek, Ala., Tuesday, July 19, 2011. Major retailers are halting sales of the Confederate flag after the June 17, 2015 shooting deaths of nine black church members in South Carolina. AP Photo/Dave Martin

This Fourth of July, the Texas division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has announced that several of its members plan to march in parades across the state, carrying the Confederate battle flag.

"They most definitely will be seeing the confederate flag in parades this weekend," Marshall Davis, President of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Texas Division, told local station KXAN. "We don't plan to make any changes. We still want to honor our heroes and our heritage in the same way as we have for years."

While the Confederate flag has long been a controversial issue in the United States, efforts to remove the flag or other references to the Confederacy from public places have heightened in the weeks since nine African-American churchgoers were killed by a white man who said he was hoping to start a race war in a historic Charleston church.

Several stores, including Target, Amazon, Sears and Walmart, have stopped selling the flag in their stores, and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for the removal of the flag from statehouse grounds in late June.

Conservative evangelical leaders like the Southern Baptist Convention's Russell Moore and the Rev. Franklin Graham of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association have also called for the discontinuation of Confederate flag displays on public property in wake of the Charleston massacre.

"My great-great-grandfathers fought for the South under the Confederate flag during the civil war - both were wounded at Gettysburg and lost limbs," Rev. Graham stated last month.

"Growing up, many people in the South flew the Confederate flag; but I believe that it's time for this flag to be set aside as a part of our history."

"The cross and the Confederate flag cannot co-exist without one setting the other on fire," added Russell Moore in a lengthy op-ed. "In Christ, we were slaves in Egypt-and as part of the Body of Christ we were all slaves too in Mississippi. Let's watch our hearts, pray for wisdom, work for justice, love our neighbors. Let's take down that flag."

However, Davis told KXAN that like many Americans, he sees the flag as a symbol of Southern pride rather than as a symbol of racism, and argues that it is a large part of their organizations flag display.

"Our contemporary, regimental and divisional flags that we have feature different sections of the confederate flag," Davis said. "We have every intention of it still being flown at the Fourth of July and in the future."

He continued, "I do not see it as a racist symbol. We condemn the fact that different hate groups have misappropriated our sacred symbols to use for their own agenda. That is not our agenda at all."

Not all Texas concur with Davis' sentiments: "It's unfortunate that it takes a mass murder to get this country to look at the fact that the flag is a symbol of racism," said Nelson Linder, chapter president of NAACP Austin. "It's a symbol of racism, it's a symbol of oppression, and it's a symbol of civil war. It is a divisive, threatening, hostile symbol."

He added that it is time for Texas to remove the flag from public display altogether and start the discussion about the issue for what it stands for.

"You don't change this country and this state by taking a flag down, that's only a public emblem," Linder said. "The real issue is are you going to address racism, legacy, the current challenges, and they haven't done that."