Wallace FlagThe following is one small example of what minorities endured as recently as the early 1960’s. For some of you that may seem like a long time ago; another era. For me it was not that long ago. The 60’s were the time of my childhood, and I remember witnessing┬ásegregation first-hand.

When George Wallace tok the oath of office as the newly elected Governor of Alabama on January 14th, 1963 his acceptance speech included the following:
“In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

Yes. Wallace advocated for forced segregation as a fight against tyranny. Amazing. And when he gave that speech he was standing in front of the infamous Confederate battle flag.

Meanwhile Vivian Malone – the African American daughter of a Maintenance Worker and a domestic (housekeeper) had received her BA from segregated Alabama A&M University with honors. She wanted to pursue an advanced degree in accounting not offered at A&M Her only option was the “white” University of Alabama. During the process of her application and enrollment she and her parents were harassed and intimidated by thugs in an attempt to scare her off. This threat to her safety did not deter her and she made her application. With the help of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund her application was approved.

Wallace, who had publicly declared he would stop integration “at the schoolhouse door” would have none of it. So stopping integration at the entrance to UA was exactly what he did.

On June 11, 1963 Malone and another African American student – James Hood were brought to the University by deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach to enroll and were met – at the schoolhouse door – by Governor Wallace who not only refused the order, but he interrupted Katzenbach’s request to let them pass; in front of the crowds of media crews surrounding him, Wallace delivered a short, speech claiming that “The unwelcomed, unwanted, unwarranted and force-induced intrusion upon the campus of the University of Alabama … of the might of the Central Government offers frightful example of the oppression of the rights, privileges and sovereignty of this State by officers of the Federal Government.” President Kennedy federalized State National Guard Troops to force their entry and admission into the university, and escorted them on campus to deter violence and Governor Wallace’s thuggish racism.

And in the middle of this, the image of the Confederate Flag. The image of racism, segregation, and violence against African Americans who wanted little more than the same rights that the rest of America enjoyed.

I know that there are many who claim that the flag is symbol of their heritage. Of their forefather’s heroism in the civil war. But for millions of Americans the flag has another, more sinister meaning. One of hatred. Of violence. Of terrorism. For them the flag stands for the darkest times our country has endured. Many Minorities also have died at the hands of those wielding this flag for the mere crime of defending their basic human rights. For them the heritage IS hate.

Times have changed. Racism isn’t dead, of course, but it is no longer codified in federal or state law. Racism and racists are a dying breed, and they know it. They have nothing but their own lies and ignorance to hang their hats on.

Wallace was wrong. Of that there is no dispute. by 1979 he had apologized to African American leaders and in his final term as governor he appointed a record number to state offices. In his final years he recanted his racist views and asked publicly for forgiveness. My guess is that he would also support removing the blight of the stars and bars from public display.

Take it down. It has no place in society.