1/1/2005, 10:59 a.m. CT
By PHILLIP RAWLS
The Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — If you think you see the Alabama flag flying in front of more public buildings than a few years ago, you’re right.
In 2004, a state law started requiring state-funded public buildings to fly the Alabama flag.
Lloyd Caperton, director of the Alabama State Flag Initiative, estimates that use of the Alabama flag on state-funded buildings has jumped from about 50 percent a few years ago to more than 90 percent.
"There’s still a few that are missing," he said.
For some, flying the Alabama flag is simply a matter of state pride. Other see a direct tie between the state flag and the states’ rights movement.
Caperton and Walter Bryant, a former state trooper who’s now deceased, were leaders of a group that lobbied the Legislature in 2001 to pass a state law requiring public buildings that are supported in whole or in part with state funds to fly the Alabama flag.
The legislation came at a time when Mississippi and Georgia were struggling over the use of the Confederate battle flag in their state flags.
The Legislature wrote the law so that public buildings got three years to get into compliance, and there is no penalty for those that missed this year’s deadline.
Some didn’t have to make any changes. David Bronner, CEO of the Retirement Systems of Alabama, said he displays the national and state flags in his home and he flies them on office buildings and hotels erected by the state pension fund.
"We feel we represent Alabama and we should be proud of what we represent," Bronner said.
Caperton, director of the Alabama State Flag Initiative, is also state treasurer for the League of the South, a group that advocates Southern independence. Some others involved in the flag initiative are members of the League of the South or the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
"One of the main reasons we did it was to promote self-governance and states’ rights," Caperton said.
The Alabama flag was approved by the Legislature in 1895 — 30 years after the Civil War ended — but it contains an X-shaped St. Andrew’s cross like the Confederate battle flag and is cherished by Southern heritage groups as a Confederate symbol.
Despite the involvement of members of League of the South in the state flag bill, the Legislature passed it without a dissenting vote, and the Legislative Black Caucus raised no objections.
State Rep. Alvin Holmes, a spokesman for the caucus, said he still has no objections as long as the state flag is flown with U.S. flag on state-funded buildings.
"People who are not familiar with the state flag and just driving through the state get it confused with the Confederate flag. That’s why they ought to have the U.S. flag with it," Holmes, D-Montgomery, said.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press