State senators are scheduled next week to begin considering whether to keep the Confederate flag on the Senate’s official seal, another sign of a growing national tide against icons of the South’s rebellion in the 1860s.
The Senate Rules Committee will meet Oct. 8 to begin re-examining the current emblem of the chamber. Under Senate rules, the seal includes “a fan of the five flags which have flown over Florida” — those of the United States, Confederate States of America, France, Great Britain and Spain.
But there has been a growing backlash against Confederate symbols since June, when a man with white supremacist views opened fire at an African-American church in Charleston, S.C., killing nine people. Since then, Southern states including Florida have wrestled with how to reconcile past commemorations of “the lost cause” with shifting feelings about race and the meaning of the Civil War.
While many Southerners view displays of the Confederate banner as recognition of their ancestors’ military service and sacrifice, African-Americans and others see flying the flag as an endorsement of the brutal, slave-driven economy that was a central issue in the war.
Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, and Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, requested in June that the committee consider whether the seal should be changed. In a memo, Gardiner did not specifically point to the Confederate flag, but wrote about how views on symbols can transform over time.
“The current Senate seal and coat of arms were first adopted in rule in 1973,” Gardiner wrote. “Florida has certainly changed a great deal since the early seventies. Just as our state seal has been revised over time, I believe a periodic review of our legislative insignia would be beneficial.”
In a separate letter to Rules Chairman David Simmons, Joyner called explicitly for “the removal of the Confederate flag from the official Senate seal.”
Gardiner asked Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, to have a recommendation ready when the next regular legislative session begins in January. Any change to the Senate seal would require a two-thirds vote of the Senate.
Other legislative efforts dealing with the flag are also underway. A pair of bills (SB 154 and HB 243) — sponsored by Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, and Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg — would seek to ban government buildings or properties from displaying any flag used by the Confederacy during its 1860 to 1865 rebellion.
Legislative leaders have not yet scheduled either bill for a committee hearing.
Lawmakers could also consider legislation to replace a statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, whose likeness is one of two sculptures that represent the state in the National Statuary Hall Collection at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C.
And the argument about how to commemorate Confederate military service has continued elsewhere. The Sons of Confederate Veterans has pushed unsuccessfully to get soldiers who fought against the Union admitted to the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame.
proud yankee says
only Confederate flag that matters is the white flag of surrender.
Just remove all of US’s torrid history will you’re at it.
Make us all indentured servants and bow to the Islam nation.
You must not have paid attention in history class… Why are you (not you as a person but the group of confederate flag hatters) against the “flag”? The flag never did anything wrong, yes the KKK adopted the flag but that was because they believed in the confederate states of America and were not happy with the out come of the Civil war, and were not happy with the freedmen. And the War wasn’t even fought over slavery… The war was fought over preserving the union, and “teaching the south a lesson for seceding”. Slavery didn’t come into the war until I think Gettysburg when the war made a turning point in the norths favor. And the south didn’t secede to keep their slaves, they seceded because they didn’t want a strong federal government. The south wanted a central government. If the south would’ve won the civil war this country wouldn’t be going down the drain right now, we wouldn’t have a government pushing racism and trying to make friends with the terrorist and bringing Syrian’s to a country that can’t even take care of their own military. So please tell me how you think its a good thing that “the only good color is the white in the flag for surrender”
Or you could have a symbol of a potato as our county commission has on their emblem.
Maestro queue the music!
This is nuts. Just because some whacko killed a couple people was pictured with the confederate flag, now it’s banned. If he was pictured with an American flag or a muslum flag or symbol would they be banned? I think not. The sooner we get rid of that Islam from the white house we can start to rebuild this country. Hopfully it’s not too late.
Might as well get rid of all churches in this country, take down the US flag, stop all federal holidays, everyone wear a uniform, follow one law, read what your told, sing what your told to sing you get the picture.
If the seal is changed JUST because some don’t like history what is that saying about us? If one is removed ALL must be removed.
Derrick R. says
Might as well strip the seal of the other four too. And while we’re your thinking like sheep why not go after SC flag after all the Crescent Moon is been the symbol of hate and oppression on women gays and freedom!
proud yankee says
if the south had won that war, they wouldnt be part of this country. they wanted to leave. they wanted to keep their slaves and that was worth going to war over. Thank goodness the white flag of surrender flew tall and proud over the southern army.
revisionist history is fun!
proud yankee says
@austin…..you may find this interesting….it was in fact, about slavery….
On Dec. 24, 1860, delegates at South Carolina’s secession convention adopted a “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.” It noted “an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery” and protested that Northern states had failed to “fulfill their constitutional obligations” by interfering with the return of fugitive slaves to bondage. Slavery, not states’ rights, birthed the Civil War.