Controversial Confederate Flag Raising Ceremony

June 16th, 2008
By Orlando Salinas

I thought I’d only see Caucasians attending a controversial Confederate flag raising ceremony, early on Saturday morning in Tampa, Florida. That’s what I get for thinking.

But there they were- a smattering of African Americans, mixing it up with Caucasian bikers wearing Confederate flag jean jackets and caps. But what really caught my eye was seeing some of those same African American folks also sporting the controversial symbol on their bodies too.

Right smack dab at the politically powerful junction of Interstate 4 and I-75… hoisted 139 feet up in the in the air, was what most Americans call the flag of the Confederacy, but what is more correctly referred to by historians as “a soldiers flag.”

And that flag is huge, 50 feet by 30 feet, about the same size as the U.S. flag, flown over over mega-sized car lots across the country. Car dealers fly the stars and stripes partly out of patriotism, and partly for publicity. And the sons of Confederate veterans, Florida division, is no different.

Marion Lambert, who owns the sliver-size piece of property where the flag has been displayed, calls himself a proud member of the sons of Confederate veterans, who says his local organization would never defend the painful issue of slavery. And, as I watched Caucasian and some African Americans, hoist that heavy flag 139 feet in the air, there was a collective but “Out of tune” rendition of “I wish I was in Dixie,” and yep, African Americans folks were singing it too, and off key as well.

The local chapter of the NAACP has condemned this event. Calling it racist, and an abomination to millions of Americans, both African American and Caucasian . I was told it would not talk anymore to the media about this issue, saying it would only bring more publicity to the sons of confederate veterans. I pushed a little more, and was told the national NAACP, had given orders to the local chapter, to no longer talk to the press, saying it would only hurt Senator Barack Obama, the presumed Democrat presidential nominee, “Who needs the votes of those kinds of people in Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Ohio.” I asked “What do you mean those kinds of people?” His response- ‘’You know what i mean.’’

Throughout the morning, motorcycles rumbled in and out of the parking lot, making it hard to hear, and these folks wanted to be heard. Marion Lambert told me he wants people to notice the flag, wants people to ask, “Why is that huge flag being flown here in Tampa.”

Lamberts answer was simple enough: “I want people to talk to us, let us tell ‘em we’re not for slavery, we’re not for racism, we don’t hate minorities. We just want to show pride and reverence to our ancestors. We don’t agree with the slavery part, it was wrong, but we can’t ignore this flag. It represents our southern heritage, the good that we want to remember, and the bad part we should never forget.”

So there it was, white and black folks, some sitting on cinder blocks, smoking pipes. One elderly African American man wearing a suit and a Confederate tie, back-slapping and joking with a younger Caucasian man wearing so many Confederate symbols, he looked like the poster child for the event. The local NAACP has called these Confederate flag-supporting blacks “out of touch,” saying they don’t represent black America.

I asked the older black man in the Confederate tie, what he thought about the NAACP’s comment, he said “I’m about as black as it gets, I’m the grandson of slaves, I’m a U.S. war veteran, and I’m just as proud of this (Confederate) flag, because it represents my heritage too. And the NAACP doesn’t represent all of black America either.”

Sure wasn’t what I expected to hear.

© 2008 FOX News Network

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