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The history of the confederate flag

The confederate flag has been the center of controversy recently, with NASCAR even banning it. But the history of this emblem is not as straightforward as it seems.

As protests continue against racial inequality in America a controversial symbol is getting new scrutiny, the confederate flag. And it turns out the history of this divisive emblem is not as straightforward as it seems. 

First up, the confederate flag is not actually the confederate flag. It was the battle flag of General Robert E Lee and his army of Northern Virginia. The confederacy actually had three different flags during its short existence and none was the stars and bars we think of today. For decades after the civil war it was really only flown by confederate veteran groups during parades.

The confederate flag we know of today did not take on additional significance until the 1940's. It was adopted as a symbol of the Dixiecrat party, a group founded to oppose President Truman's desegregation of the army. The head of the party, Strom Thurmond, said their platform was quote "to stand for the segregation of the races".

As the fight over segregation continued some southern states, like Georgia, started incorporating the confederate flag into their own state flag designs. And as civil rights protests raged in the 60's, South Carolina decided to fly the confederate flag over the statehouse. 

But in recent years support for it has fallen among mainstream politicians. Now only Mississippi uses it as part of its state flag, and calls to get that changed have gotten louder in recent days.

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