I am a black male. The Confederate flag means more to me than the national flag ever will.
It is easy for most people in the present to point out that slavery was the obvious "error of the era" and become disenchanted with some of the positive ideals of the South, such as increased agriculture (more earth-friendly than the factories of the North), more small businesses (far more family friendly than the industrial giants of the North), and more power for the people of the state and less power for the federal government.
Unfortunately, slavery was also one way of life at that time. The money-hungry juggernaut that is the federal government "emancipated" the slaves not out of humane reasons, but for power–as a way to put down a rebellion.
The result, while favorable to the union, gave rise to things such as the Ku Klux Klan and "grandfather clauses." My people were free, but without the ability to defend themselves and their rights. This paved the way for the inequality that rears its ugly head even today.
History teaches me that one group of people can suppress another group of people only for so long. Eventually the oppressed rise up on their own and liberate themselves, mostly to better living conditions.
My advice for people who are caught up on the "slavery issue" is to take a deeper look into the Southern life- style as opposed to that of the union, and not just think about slaves. Then they should decide for themselves what the South means to them.