Educators work to protect students from racist propaganda

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by Kate Snyder, original image above courtesy Edward Stojakovic (modified)

As part of a growing national movement to remove painful reminders of the country’s history of pro-slavery propaganda from public spaces, including schools, NEA members passed an action item at the 2015 Representative Assembly in support of the removal of the Confederate battle flag from public schools. Since then we have developed model legislation and school board resolutions to help state affiliates and local educators drive that effort across the country.

“As educators we know how symbols of hatred- whether targeting race or religion- impact our students. Whether it is a swastika spray painted on the school wall or a confederate flag flying on public grounds, the effect is divisive and deeply painful. We cannot condone their presence and must take action to ensure all students feel safe and able to learn in our schools.”

– Kevin F. Gilbert, Ed.D., Teacher Leadership/Special Projects Coordinator, Clinton Public School District, Executive Committee, National Education Association.

The horrific violence that shocked a nation and sparked a national dialogue on this issue was back in the news this month as the federal trial date was set for Dylann Roof, the young white man charged with killing nine African American worshippers in their church in Charleston, SC in June of 2015. Roof was photographed holding the Confederate flag in images on his website.

Our history and current affairs both negate the argument that the Confederate flag is nothing more than a symbol of Southern Heritage. As racism and segregation gripped the nation in the 20th century, the Confederate flag became a divisive and violent emblem of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and white supremacist groups. It was also the symbol of the States’ Rights Democratic Party that formed in 1948 to oppose civil-rights platforms of the Democratic Party.

Today the flag remains an emblem of the KKK, the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (which has referred to African Americans as “a retrograde species of humanity”), and the League of the South (which advocates for a second Southern secession and a Christian theocratic society dominated by European Americans).

Following the tragedy in Charleston last year, South Carolina passed legislation to ban the confederate flag from government buildings and the image from being worn by students in public schools. States like Illinois, Tennessee and Virginia have also supported efforts to remove the confederate flag from schools and end state sponsored use of the flag.

However, the struggle continues in states like Mississippi, where the legislature refused to consider a redesign of the state flag – which features the Confederate flag as an element. Educators are proud to stand at the forefront of that struggle.

Click here to download the model state legislation and the school board resolution language.

Reader Comments

  1. Shame on all of you who defend the Confederate flag! If this symbol wasn’t rooted in racism, then why did you allow it to be used by people who were against segregation? You could have stood up and said, “This flag isn’t supposed to represent racism or segregation!” However, you chose not to, so your flag became a symbol of racism.

  2. Funny, at rally after rally, I see the Mexican flag being flown – in the US. It demonstrates a hatred of American law and values, it insults those of us who love our country. And the NEA is silent.

    1. No, the Mexican flag doesn’t represent hatred of American law and values, it represents pride in Mexico. Many US citizens have dual citizenship in Mexico and the US. And the Mexican flag wasn’t a battle flag used by the side who fought for slavery, and in my day, used by those who supported massive resistance to racial desegregation.

      1. The use of the Mexican Flag in demonstrations that support violation of US laws, encourage voter fraud and Violence is wrong.

  3. We live in a free country and we have the right as an American citizen to buy ,make, sell, display the Confederate BATTLE Flag … it is our right , our FREEDOM to do so … Muslims hate our freedom … , the musloms and the pro muslim media hate any symbol related to the Christian religeon… the blue X is a symbol of St.Andrews cross this is how he was crusified .. the stars are symbols representing the number of Christian states … the red color is symbolic for the blood of Jesus .. and the white border is symbolic of the pure protection of God … back then the Holy Bible had meaning in people’s lives … the education votes organization must be a muslim or pro muslim because they hate THE TRUE WORD OF GOD … they hate anything that has a history of any sort to Jesus and his Deciples … and you “education votes org.” hate our FREEDOM

  4. Maybe the NEA should consider learning more about History, so they can teach true history, and not politically sensitive propaganda. The Battle Flag was not Racist, nor was the cause of the men fighting under it. The war was fought as all wars are, over money and power. If Slavery was the issue, Abraham Lincoln would have issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1861 instead of 1863! Nor would he have offered the Corwin/Johnson Resolution as an Olive branch to the South in an attempt to avoid secession.

    Furthermore, the United States Flag flew over slave ships, not a Confederate Flag. And Abraham Lincoln by his own words declared himself a White Supremacist, Racist, and Segregationist. Teach that in Public School system, and then we can talk about if the Confederate Flag should be banned or not.

  5. Seems someone wants a repeat of history. It’s better to face the facts and not burry your head in the sand.

  6. I’m sorry I don’t agree. The Confederate Flag should never be in the same sentence or even be considered in any way the same as a swastika. The War Between the States is part of our history. Good or bad, it will always be part of our history. People like Dillion Roof or the KKK like to hide behind it, but to those of us that had family that fought for the Confederacy, DO NOT condone or support these cowards and lunatics, and we feel that you are dishonoring our legacy.

  7. You seem to forget that it was Abraham Lincoln who referred to African Americans as a lower – class species and that only northern states had laws which prevented African Americans from settling in their boundaries.

  8. Questions: Do you know who William Ellison is? Do you know what flag flew on slave ships? Do you know who sold their own people INTO slavery?
    Do you know who Jim Lewis is?
    Do you know, but want to propagandize anyway? KKK? Originally founded by Nathan Bedford Forrest, was not a racist organization. Bedford had many Blacks riding in his cavalry unit in combat roles. They loved him. KKK didn’t become racist until after he left the org. mostly in the turn of the century and predominantly adorned the Stars and stripes while sullying the Confederate Battle Flag.

  9. Trying to erase history does nothing! The Civil War happened. Do both sides justice and accurately report the facts. Confederate soldiers did NOT die so wealthy people could keep their slaves. Do some legit research!

  10. If you are educated you should know that the Confederate Battle Flag has it’s roots based on religion and not hatred. The hatred factor is a myth that has spread like wildfire. The racist in this country are Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and anybody that touts the Confederate Flag is racist. I guess you are going to tell me next that the Civil War was based on slavery. The Civil War was about taxes the southerners had to pay as well states rights, slavery was only a small issue. Check the real history that used to be taught and not the propaganda that is being taught in our schools today. Wake up people the Dummycrats are lying to you and are trying to rewrite history with false information.

    1. The Civil War was about slavery – read the declarations of South Carolina or Mississippi (or any of the 11 states that seceded) and they specifically state so.

  11. I think you are brain washing students, without KNOWING history. This is a BATTLE FLAG. Ask how many people out of the entire population of the south OWNED slaves during the Civil War. Then ask of those slave owners, how many actually fought in the war. Then ask yourself if YOU would give up your life in a battle, so some rich guy you didn’t know can own slaves.
    All of this is propaganda, and erasing history. You should be ashamed to even be a part of destroying America and her history. Leave the flag alone,, and teach these kids the truth, and let THEM make the decision when they are adults, if they want to fly the flag or not….but to teach lies, or only one side of the story, is an agenda, NOT the truth!!

  12. Your current affairs negates the argument that the Confederate flag is nothing more than a symbol of Southern Heritage because you are liars. You believe it is a symbol of white supremacist groups because you are liars. (you can’t hide because the truth if there for all to see….the U.S. flag and Christian cross is listed by the KKK as their symbols. You lie, because you are the NEA and you are interested in money, not education. By the way, in Tennessee we still use our flags. I know your kind, because I’ve seen your harassment first hand. I don’t hold out much hope that you will change, but I do see your influence waning as people learn the truth.

  13. You can say the Conf Battle flag is racist but it was NEVER a racist symbol to me. I can say a duck is a cat all day long but that doesn’t make it so. You are the person who is being hateful, divisive and racist against my ancestors who fought to defend the Confederacy against an invasion. The killing of the 9 church parishioners was horrific. But, how about the 11 Chicagoans who were killed at the same time. Did you hear about them? Where is your sympathy for them. The reason is that it was black on black crime which is not news worthy for the Left Leaning media. They had rather assault white Southern Christians. The below link will lead you to a pic of the KKK marching with the Stars and Stripes. So, let’s get rid of that flag. If you go to their website, you will also see the Stars and Stripes at the top of their page.

    file:///Historyofthesouth.pd814/photos/a.1404511263118649.1073741828.1404463309790111/1779731568929948/?type=3

  14. The Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia is not nor was it ever a National Flag of the Confederate States. Additionally the organizations you outline are mostly in your yankee states and are but a extremely small portion of the American population. If you want to ban a flag that has stood for racism for over 200 years you need look no further than the current US flag. Deo Vindice! Sic Semper Tyrannis!

  15. Perhaps the NEA should concentrate on improving reading, writing, and arithmetic scores in our schools…instead of wasting time and resources on political activity and subversive attempts to encourage others to push for the purge of our history and heritage. TEACHERS…Boycott the NEA. Cut of their funding and end the nonsense.

  16. Maybe having a unit on the history of various American flags and the good they can represent and the bad would be the ideal outcome here.

    The comparison of the US flag and the Confederate flag is compelling and more relevant and associative than Nazi emblems and Confederate emblems. Nazis as a policy murdered several million people in cold blood apart from military actions. That was based off of religion, race, and nationality. The Confederacy was a product of the US model of slavery and race in the Constitution and though slavery could be at worst harsh and brutal and at best paternal and demeaning, it was not an attempt to murder a race of people. In fact, free communities of black citizens lived in every Confederate city, and state.

    Then one has to ask the question…which flag allowed for the institution of slavery to exist following the Constitutional convention and early republic? The US flag of course. Which flag flew over the removal and at times massacres of Native American populations? The US flag, yes. Thus the American flag is in essence a symbol of bigotry, hate, and oppression.

    So the Confederate flag as a war flag was esteemed as an emblem of valor by the soldiers and families of those southern soldiers. The vast majority of those veterans never were members of the KKK. And once the Klan had its huge membership in the early 20th century, they adopted the US flag. If the KKK hijacked both flags, should we not teach that? It’s a complicated story filled with hypocrisies.

    The whole story of race and flag emblems of the country we live in is a strange and harrowing study. It can be moving and inspirational and it can be revolting and sad. As a museum professional I present the good and bad of all the cultures we do programs on. if we present the Confederate flag as just as symbol of hate, we lose what the veterans and their families felt at the time and after the war. At the same time we have to make sense of why the KKK chose their emblems. It’s a full story. It requires of the teachers to be objective and that may be the hard part.

    1. Good points but you left one out. The U. S. flag also flew over the Plessy vs. Ferguson “separate but equal” segregation case as well. And it stayed that way for almost 60 years before the Brown vs. Board of Education racial integration case.

  17. It is disgusting that educators would seek to divorce history from the present by purging certain symbols. How about we TEACH instead???

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