It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…circa 1865.
A new crop of Confederate flag controversies is boiling up along the East Coast just in time for the holidays.
In Virginia, residents are fighting over the flying of the rebel flag in Danville, as a new billboard welcomes drivers to “the last capital of the Confederacy.” About 50 supporters carried the Confederate flag during an unauthorized display at a Roanoke Christmas parade earlier this month. And the flag won a victory in Pennsylvania on Tuesday when Kutztown University overturned a ban on the rebel insignia.
“It’s our right to show our heritage, our pride, what we believe in,” Virginia Flaggers member Tommy Goddard told WDBJ7.
The Danville billboard, which went up last week, greets those entering town with the message: “Welcome to Danville. The last capital of the Confederacy and proud of it.” Those leaving town see a similar sentiment with the Beverley Hillbilly’s-like addition, “Y’all come back.”
Some residents have already complained about flagpoles with Confederate flags the group has placed around the city, Goddard said. City officials confirmed to WDBJ7 that a complaint was filed to the planning and zoning board.
Goddard’s group doesn’t seem intent on backing down.
“Hoping that the city realizes if they go for this code, that there is always other ways to get around ordinances and codes, other ways to make sure that flag or flag pole stays up,” Goddard said.
The Danville debate is at least the second Confederate hullabaloo in Virginia this month.
As many as 50 flag bearers carried the rebel banner during a parade in Roanoke on Dec. 11, The Roanoke Times reported. The unauthorized display was reportedly organized by several pro-Confederate flag groups and formed behind the permitted float for the Sons of Confederate Veterans 28th Infantry Camp 49.
The Roanoke NAACP, which opposed the Sons of Confederate Veterans float even before the unsanctioned flag bearers showed up, organized an opposition rally near the parade’s beginning.
“It shocks and saddens me that these issues resulted in individuals on both sides of the debate resorting to the use of a Christmas parade as a venue to further their cause, not celebrate the season,” Downtown Roanoke Inc. board Chairman Tony Pearman told The Times. DRI organizes the parade.
And while Confederate flag supporters in both Virginia cases face significant opposition to their cause, the flag claimed a win in a small Pennsylvania town Tuesday.
Kutztown University overturned a ban that barred the Confederate flag – and swastikas – from being displayed inside dorm rooms and other areas on campus, Inside Higher Ed reported.
“The Confederate flag and swastika are NOT permitted in any residence hall, suite and apartment or student room,” the original policy, enacted earlier this month, stated. The word “not” was uppercased and bolded in the original text.
But the university’s legal counsel put the kibosh on Kutztown’s prohibition, citing a need to review the ban’s “constitutionality.”
“The university will educate our students and other members of our community, so they will understand the historical and modern context for these symbols,” a university statement issued Tuesday said, “and we will continue to advocate for an environment wherein all those associated with our university can feel valued and safe.”