At a Memorial Day gathering outside Atlanta, poets expressed their feelings about the Confederate flag before symbolically burying it.
“A lot of lives have been lost around this Confederate flag,” the event’s organizer, Terone Allen, told WTVM.
People in 13 Southern states “buried” or burned the Stars and Bars in their own unique way. The International Business Times reports that a New Orleans group burned the Confederate flag on a barbecue grill at the foot of a monument to Robert E. Lee, the general who led the South’s rebellion.
The events occurred simultaneously and were uploaded to Facebook.
“The image [of the flag] brings so much toxic memories of the American experience, particularly from the African-American point of view,” John Sims told the Orlando Sentinel.
Sims is the Sarasota, Fla., artist who coordinated the events. He explained to the Sentinel: “There’s a notion of ‘Southern heritage’ and who owns [that], but a very important part of Southern culture is the African-American experience. … The Confederate flag is a flag of terror from its use by the Klan in the ’20s to the anti-civil-rights movement in the ’50s and ’60s.”
Ben Jones, a spokesman for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, called the ceremonies “terribly offensive” and “astonishingly idiotic,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Jones, a former Georgia congressman, added, “This sort of thing merely inflames old divisions. For every flag [Sims] burns and buries, we will put 10 more up.”
Sims, who told the Sentinel that he’s received death threats from the Ku Klux Klan, hopes to turn the Memorial Day gatherings into an annual event.
“The Confederate flag isn’t going away anytime soon, is it?” he asked the Sentinel rhetorically. “So we need an annual ceremony to reflect on this symbol of a very contentious and complicated past.”