Symbolism: Battle over Confederate battle flag heats up

Clip from animated map developed by Andrew Kahn with data from slavevoyages.com for Slate (Background image by Tim Jones)

After a gunman with ties to a white supremacy group opened fire on a black church in Charleston, S.C., June 17, it didn’t take long for people to point out that the attack occurred in a state where the Confederate flag still flies on government property. Before long, even former proponents of the flag like South Carolina State Sen. Paul Thurmond were calling for its removal.

On June 22, South Carolina’s Governor Nikki Haley also declared it was time for the flag to come down, adding her voice to a campaign that’s only been gaining steam in the last week and a half. Hundreds of thousands of people have signed online petitions to remove the flag, and over the weekend, activist and filmmaker Bree Newsome climbed a 30-foot flag pole outside the South Carolina Statehouse and took it down herself.

Many of the flag’s supporters claim it’s more about history than it is about racism. Still, there’s no denying that one of the emblems of those who were willing to die to keep their black slaves has a tainted past. And just in case that wasn’t clear, the Ku Klux Klan is planning a pro-Confederate flag rally at the South Carolina capitol July 18.

The pressure is mounting for South Carolina to remove the flag, and the graphic below shows some highlights of the effort over the past week. And this animated map from Slate provides a gripping visualization of the more than 20,000 trans-Atlantic voyages that made up the Atlantic slave trade, the fruits of which the Confederacy fought to protect.

Infographic created by Dawn Cherie Araujo using Canva.com and with data from CNN, MoveOn.org and Google.

[Dawn Cherie Araujo is staff reporter for Global Sisters Report based in Kansas City, Missouri. Follow her on Twitter @Dawn_Cherie.]

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