tv Inside Story Al Jazeera February 15, 2016 6:30pm-7:01pm EST
>> proudest moment in my life. [ ♪ ] as you have heard, there was once briefly a country called the confederate states of america. the ideas enshrined in its constitution and celebrated by its founding fathers were defeated on the battlefield. for many americans, that was that. for others, the end of the civil war began a century and a half of mourning, nostal guy and efficacious of the loft cause. could that time be ending now. the
embattled flag at 150 years old - it's "inside story". [ ♪ ] welcome to "inside story". i'm ray suarez. a curious thing happened after a killer walked into a bible study at an historic black church in south carolina and killed nine people there. along with proclamations and arguments about racism and gun control game a backlash against a symbol carried by dylann roof, the confederate battle flak, with a blue st. andrew's cross on a battlefield with 13 stars was not folded and put away. it was carried by confederate veterans, knight riders
terrorizing free men, counter-demonstrators part of the resistance to integration as jim crow laws were defeated. it's flown in defines, and pop culture, used in ways maligned and begin nine -- benign. del walters looks at the battle. >> reporter: what we know is the confederate flag was not the original flag. that was inspired by the united states flag. the one we see flying next to the carolina state capital is derived from the confederate battle flag, and defenders say it represents southern heritage. opponents see it as a symbol of white supremacy and slavery. after the south surrender in 1865 confederate flags were destroyed or moth balled, but not forgotten. they were revived as a political symbol when diplomats pressed
south. date. >> when president harry truman desegregated the armed forces in 1948 and supported anti-lynching views, southern democrats aring or descension. richard russell - his supporters paraded around the arena waving the flag. when dixie crats nominated their president sales exploded and it was the symbol of segregation. in south carolina, the confederate flag received new prominence in 1962 when it was raised over the state house in an act of defiance over the civil rights movement. >> not everyone in south carolina is still living in the 18th
acceptedury. >> reporter: four years later, south carolina legislators reached a compromise. the flag was moved from the top of the state house to the south side of the complex, next to a monument to confeder u soldiers. georgia's flag incorporated the confederate cross but was redesigned. mississippi's plastic bag contains the confederate scprorks voters decided 2:1 to keep the emblem as part of the flag embattled flag - this time on the programme we are joined by bertram hays davis, president of the bovoer foundation, dedicated to the preservation of jefferson's southern culture, a great grandson of the president of the united states, and
reverend nelson rivers, past or of charity missionary baptist church in south carolina. reverend, were you surprised that each before the victims were buried, people were arguing about the flag? >> well, it was more like shock. at the tide, that turned to quickly of public elect officials, the governor, nikki haley, members of the senate and the house in south carolina, the mayor of north charleston, the mayor of charleston, major riley was a supporter of bringing the flag down. the vice president, reverend sharpton and i met and talked about where we were, it didn't seem possible that we would move so quickly, i hasten to say it should not have tape the lives of reverend clementa pinckney, a member of the senate.
and another eight people, most of whom i knew and had close relationships with several of them, and to thing they had to die to make this happen will be bittersweet for us, it means south carolina, for 15 years had a chance to do what they say publicly now that they wouldn't before, that it represents slavery, racism, denigration of a people and trees job, that's what it represents, and no glossing over it changes that. we knew that 15 years ago when we tubing it off the capital. we should have put it in a museum where it belongs, where all the relics of bygone hatred should be placed. >> were you surprised that 48, 72 hours after the terrible crime people were once again arguing about the flag? >> not at all. i think the flag, the battle flag
has, echoing the remarks of the reverend betrayed assistance, by those that chose to take the flag to places it was never meant to be and recognised something long past forgotten. to see anyone say we are there or that it is meaning. it's an historic bat the flag shown in battle, but it should be preserved in historic place, not on public display with organizations or groups. >> let's expand on what you said. what happened after the war was over, when there was confederates and ageing confed rahsies, was the use of the flag changed, distorted as a piece of
symbolism. was it taken outs of its original context in your view? >> i believe it was. i think that ramped itself up. my great great-grandfather realized after the war that the confederates states of america was behind us. the unification of the country was important than the allegiance was. it is historic in reference to what it stood for. it is the only function ability that it should have. you'll see the flag in all kinds of context, in all kinds of places. when you drive on the roads and see it.
what does it say to you now in 2015. >> it says that an fern american, whoever is driving, hates black people. it may not be what they thing they are saying, that's the message i receive. as he said powerfully. a good friend of mine, esteemed leader told us about two years ago when they celebrated or observed the start of the war. he said anyone that tells you that the flag has value that they talk about, didn't have relatives, and no idea of the kind of cornage that the war involved. and his grandfather was a confederate veteran and his grandfather did not want to fly the flag. he said things that i saw and
know, that happened in the war, should never have been done. and don't want to repeat it. when you lard the flag and say it's a great thing. you are ms informed. those fighting under it said let's get rid of it, it's behind us, we should have one nation, one nation under guard. a lot of people use it as a symbol of defines. think about it. every time something drastic or sad happens, in the south against african-american americans, one of the first symbols that come out is the flag. we are not obdues, we understand what it means, it's been told to us, we grew up with it, we understand what it means, now, because of the death that
happened, historic and horrific event at mother emanuel church, finally they are doing what should have been done. >> stay with us, perhaps at sol point in the past couple of weeks, you have been surprised at how rapidly people withdraw their support. are we inching close toing saying hard things to each other about what it means or meant. with we finding a different place for the emblem. embattled flag is the >> our american story is written everyday. it's not always pretty, but it's real... and we show you like no-one else can. this is our american story. this is america tonight.
"inside story". ja you're watching "inside story", i'm ray suarez, as we consider the revived debate, argument, reassess reassessment use and abuse of the confederate flag, my guests are with me. we know that the art has not ended with the flag. people are looking at monuments, forts named for confederate generals, halls across the south on college campuses. where does this end. is there a place for preserving that confederate history, that doesn't necessarily celebrate or idolize it, but makes sure we don't forget it. >> i think you hit the point where it should be.
we have political sworn 27 march going to the extremes of eliminating everything to the historical part of it. in this reference we have to understand that the people represented by the fort names or lee or davis my have more history to them this we portray in reference to their lives, my art about davis is this is 5% of his life, he didn't want the job and took the presidency. when we look at people in reference to monuments and statues, let's make sure we understand the presence that it commemorates, and davis's reference, you look at the united states capital of which america does not understand that davis had an impacts on the building to be as magnificent as t because he was an american
patriot. >> your great-grandfather is memorialized in a place like stone moupt an, and georgia is home to many african-american americans. people are moving from other places in the country back to the south. when they look at stone mountain, do they see the same thing you do? >> if we educate america about the historical people, yes, they will. if they read one line in the history book or leave a story told of them, no, they won't. the secret or success will be as we educate america about the fine points, so there's an decision. >> reverend rivers, how about you, when you take a roadtrip through the south and you see the monument, parks, places of honour across your part of the
country named for the men, do you want them all removed. >> no, it takes up energy i don't have time for. i fought to have the confederate flag taken doing since 1979. i was a part of when we tried to remove it from the dome. we fought against the compromise, we didn't approach and were not involved. when i move across the country - i'm a lay historian , i do no more about history than a lot of people. i do take it in context. the challenge i have, there's a reason why people have it. it represents subdue gags, trying to stay that white supremacy is the law of the time, because the creator william thompson believed. i think we waste a lot of energy going after every confederate
monument, because the mindset is our problem? south carolina we don't have expansion, we should. the right to vote has been attacked. we stand up against that. the criminal justice system is unfair and racist. those are the things we are fighting to overcome, and to change, and part of the problem is the confederate flag keeping it, the mind-set, up until # die, is the same. if you understood the message, you'd have to have nine people die, you'd never put it up. you would have taken it down by now. to go from city to city, county to country, back when i bet him. i understood that. i did my history and research. i'm not going to spend time down.
>> let me get a quick word from bertram hayes davis. right now in birmingham, they are talking about taking down a monument, moving it to a privately owned park. is that an appropriate way to handle it, quickly before we go. >> everyone has make a decision, as long as they understand the reasoning of what the mon awement stands for. if it is offensive to individuals or the public, it needs to be moved, i condone that, that is a good idea. i don't see the destruction as a solution, if it detracts from the reconciliation of the country, suredly we must have a solution working for all of us. >> i want to thank my guests .
story", i'm ray suarez. we've been talking about the way different americans see a shared history. kenneth davis has been a successful teacher and debunker of historical miths. his don't know much about history books walk readers through history to a better understanding of how we got to today. welcome to the programme. >> battle flag much between the end of the war and the premier of birth of a nation 50 years later. >> ray, first of all, thank you
for having me, this is an important subject and is interesting to here the conversation about this flag, it's been buried and mitted, legend and -- myth and legend and half truth and lies. it's been very productive to have a conversation about what this means. certainly the confederate flag as we know it, the one that's been discussed, is not the flag orreor the confederate states. it was too much like the american flag. the second one they came up with was a flag with a white field on it, many thinking it looked like a flag of surrender. there's a history behind this battle flag that we are debating.
how come the battle flag emerged as a symbol for white remembrance, instead of one of national flags? >> well, it was a flag that robert's troops flue in northern virgin which was the central core army in the battle for the civil war, in virgin, and in the last year of lee versus grant. a grinding war costing lives on both sides. the other point that is important to make, on the eve of the 4 july is that this slavery issue was not something part of the civil war. this is part of american history. we can't talk about our history, without going back and looking at the strands of slavery, house it's boefen into our history. five of the first seven presidents were slave holders, it was written
into the constitution and gave the states a tremendous power. that is what they did not want to give up. that is why it's important to underwhen we talk about the confederacy, we talk about a group wanting to defend one thing, the right to scope slaves and taking them further west. we get all sort of involvement in tradition and history. that's what the war was about. the vice president of the confederacy, a man named alexander stephenson said slavery was the cornerstone of the confederacy. without understanding the fundamental idea, the flag was not an important symbol until into the middle of the 20th century when segregation was defended in the aftermath of the
brown decision, when georgia adopt the flag we have to understand the history, and not get too bogged down in feel-good legends that many may have grown up believing. >> a cornerstone the lost cause idea of civil war, was the war was not fought over slavery, but over state's rights. >> that is nonsense, we have to get rid of the idea. the easiest way to do that. historians like to look at primary documents, and the document of succession in south carolina or georgia, in texas, it was explicit that they fought over slavery what they saw as an attack and assault. their institution which they believed was written into the constitution as it was. the
three fifth compromise giving the states a power in congress and the electoral college goodnight white voting population. that meant five of the first seven presidents were slave holders, and most were sympathetic to the slave-holding south. this is what slave holding was all about. >> are we at a watershed moment. can we have a rational ideas. >> we are at a watershed moment. is the conversation rational, it is a little bit. we need a tragedy to bring us to the conversation. we need to move away from the roamantize of "gone with the wind", and people realized what confederalism was, a system