reminder of racist present

While it’s good news that South Carolina has finally taken down the single Confederate Battle Flag that has flown on the state capitol grounds since 2000 (and over the state capitol itself for thirty-nine years before that), it would be better news if the flag of the Confederacy itself were removed from the Georgia state flag.

Beginning in 1879, when a state senator and former Confederate officer introduced legislation that included the design of the first official state flag, Georgia has had seven different state flags, each one bearing one or more graphic reminders of Confederate national banners.



Here is the 2003 legislation establishing the design of our current state flag:

(a) The flag of the State of Georgia shall consist of a square canton on a field of three horizontal bands of equal width. The top and bottom bands shall be scarlet and the center band white. The bottom band shall extend the entire length of the flag, while the center and top bands shall extend from the canton to the fly end of the flag. The canton of the flag shall consist of a square of blue the width of two of the bands, in the upper left of the hoist of the flag. In the center of the canton shall be placed a representation in gold of the coat of arms of Georgia as shown in the center of the obverse of the Great Seal of the State of Georgia adopted in 1799 and amended in 1914. Centered immediately beneath the coat of arms shall be the words “IN GOD WE TRUST” in capital letters. The coat of arms and wording “IN GOD WE TRUST” shall be encircled by 13 white five-pointed stars, representing Georgia and the 12 other original states that formed the United States of America.

In simpler terms, our current state flag is nothing more than the original stars and bars banner of the Confederate States of America with the state seal surrounded by thirteen stars. Adopted in 2003, it replaces the state flag adopted in 2001 which was graced or disgraced with a scroll displaying two earlier Georgia state flags, one bearing the red and white Confederate bars beside a blue canton, the other bearing the battle flag.

Of the other former Confederate states, only three display obvious Confederate emblems on their state flags: the Confederate battle flag on the Mississippi flag and the inflammatory red Saint Andrew’s cross on the white field of the Alabama and Florida flags. Only Georgia continues to fly the original national flag of the CSA.

Every state flag of Georgia has displayed the official state seal on which three pillars, labelled Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation, hold up the arch of the Constitution (whether of the United States or of Georgia, I know not).

As the great-grandson of two soldiers who fought for the Confederacy, I believe I am entitled to ask: how wise, just, or moderate is it for our state flag to continue honoring the long-lost cause of bloody rebellion?

Help Puddy Fight the Blight. Elect Julian Puddy Smith County Commissioner at-Large.


Images: All of the flags on this post are in the public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Julian Riggs Smith

Julian Riggs Smith

Although I have kept a home in New Hampshire for fifty years and have been a town councilor there for more than ten years, I was born in Louisiana, grew up there and on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, graduated Tulane, began my full-time teaching career in Alabama, ended it forty years later in Florida, and have had a home on Saint Simons Island since 1993.