About 100 people participate in a "Save Our Flags" rally in Lexington, Virginia, on Thursday (Photo: AP Photo/Mandana Marsh)
Official, public displays of the Confederate flag were banned in a rural Virginia town Thursday and the decision has set many members of the community alight with anger.
The city council of Lexington, Virginia, decided by majority vote to allow only the Virginia, U.S. and city flags to be displayed on city streets. Although personal rights to own and display the Confederate flag were not limited in any way, members of a Confederate legacy group held a protest to uphold the city’s tradition of displaying the flag.
"These are the things that make Lexington what it is," Lexington resident Mimi Knight told the Associated Press. "The Confederate flag is part of our heritage."
And it is this heritage that some took issue with; prompting the city council to vote on the issue. Officials say they received numerous complaints when Confederate flags were planted in holders on lights poles in January to mark Lee-Jackson Day, a state holiday commemorating the birthdays of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, who are buried in Lexington.
"They can carry their flags anywhere they want," City Manager T. Jon Ellestad told the Associated Press in reference to the fact that personal rights were not encroached upon by the new rule.
The Confederate flag is an object of disdain by many African-Americans, who feel that the flag represents an endorsement of slavery and white supremacists. Despite this painful connection, groups such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans maintain that regardless, the flag is a proud part of their legacy.
Numerous debates have launched over the appropriateness of the flag in public spaces. In 1999 the NAACP boycotted South Carolina over its decision to keep Confederate flags in the chambers of the state House and Senate buildings in addition to flying on top of the statehouse dome. South Carolina removed the flags from the buildings, but moved them to a nearby monument.