Insiders: Hate or Heritage?

Confederate Flag
Posted at 11:00 PM, Oct 30, 2014
and last updated 2017-12-13 05:25:12-05

MIDWAY, Fla. (WTXL)--Hate or heritage? When it comes to the confederate battle flag, people have an opinion.

In Danville, Virginia there's a debate over whether to allow the flag to continue to fly at a museum.

In South Carolina, a confederate flag has become an issue in the governor's race.

The democratic candidate there wants it removed from in front of the statehouse.

Southern states have longed grappled with the issue of the confederate flag. What do you do? Celebrate it as a part of the South, acknowledge it as a part of history or move on from it because of it's divisive nature. It's an age-old controversy popping up again, because of a new push confederate memorials on certain property.

A core and contentious issue during the civil war was slavery, according to Frank Baglione, a Tallahassee Community College history professor.

"The battle was over expansion of these two systems slave or free that's where the real political tension began," said Baglione. "It's related to slavery in the sense of which economic system is going to spread into the territories."

The war ended in 1865, with Confederate General Robert E. Lee's surrender.

Through the war, soldiers carried battle flags like the one flown by General Lee's army in northern Virginia.

"Naturally people in the South had strong feelings, and people had given their lives, approximately 250,000 southerners died in the war, and many more were wounded and for the southerners it was a great sacrifice, so the flag was symbolic to them for their lost cause, and there it remained." said Baglione. "When the Ku Klux Klan actually, not originally but when it was revived in the 1920's they started using the confederate flag as their symbol, so it became associated with the klan."

Today, that flag still ignites passion and controversy. South Georgians are mixed when they see the confederate flag.

"I just think of the history of the South," said Hunter Rondello. "I don't really connect it with racism or anything, so it's just taking pride in the south and the confederate side of the civil war."

"It's a little racial," said Jasmine Broward."I can't make people not use it but I feel like it's racial."

You see flags in people's yards and on license plates. For decades the cross and stars were even on the Georgia state flag for decades.

The last confederate flag pole in the country is even standing in Blakely, Georgia.

It's not just the flags that serve as a reminder of heritage to some and racism to others.

It's confederate memorials of soldiers at courthouses that upset people like Mark George.

"We don't think the the state should be using taxpayer dollars to celebrate men who wanted to expand and preserve slavery and men in a government where they thought they thought they were superior to them," said George.

He and the leader of the Valdosta chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Reverend Floyd Rose, launched an effort in the summer asking lawmakers and the governor to ban the memorials on public property.

George worked as a professor at Valdosta State University when the initiative began. When VSU alumnus John C. Hall, Jr. caught wind of it all, he got involved. The member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said he's not going to stand for this.

"For someone like professor George to say we're going to tear down all the monuments, Well what about the rest of us what about the family members who are descendents who were descendents," said Hall. "These men were not cowards these men were brave."

George says he has plenty of options to make sure the monuments in Georgia are moved.

"Private heritage organizations in fact, one of our suggestions is to give them these monuments that are on state grounds, as long as they incur the costs of moving them and putting them on private property," said George.

Hall says the monuments should stay right where they are. They remind him of his confederate ancestors.

"That's Stephen Alphestus Corker," said Hall. "He was in the third Georgia. The third Georgia flag is at the capitol. It's in tatters because it was shot so many times and blown up, so this is my family okay. I've gotten to know this man. He was fighting for the south, and it's just a part of your family. That's why I'm really touched by confederate stuff. It really boils down to love for my family."

Mark George did send his request to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and he got a letter in return encouraging him to talk with state legislators.

George says it's not just Georgia where he wants the memorials removed, he wants them gone across the South.

If you have a comment or a story suggestion for the "Insiders" send us a note at, attention "Insiders."