Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

University of South Carolina Beaufort Student Byron Thomas Wins Fight to Display Confederate Flag… and by the way, He’s Black

A University of South Carolina- Beaufort student has won his fight to proudly hang the Confederate flag from his dorm window.

According to the Associated Press, 19-year-old Byron Thomas was asked to remove the offending flag from his window after university officials received dozens of complaints about its presence. But now those same officials have sent an email to students and faculty stating that “the university cannot and will not prohibit these flags or other symbols that our students choose to display.”

A little thing called the First Amendment would seem to protect Thomas’ right to fly any flag he wishes.

Many Southerners still revere the Confederate flag as a symbol of their heritage. Count Thomas among those folks. “When I look at this flag, I don’t see racism. I see respect, Southern pride,” he explained to the Associated Press. Lots of Southern whites would agree with him. But there’s a twist– Byron Thomas is black. For him, the flag’s true meaning has been misunderstood. It is not, as many African-Americans and others see it, about racism, slavery and oppression, he says, but rather a positive symbol of the South’s glory.

Thomas says he’s “been getting a lot of support from people.” “My generation is interested in freedom of speech,” he told the Associated Press.

Despite winning the fight to display his flag, Byron Thomas isn’t sure whether he’ll go ahead and do it or not. His parents, who are paying for his college education, don’t approve of his views. “I don’t want to make my parents mad,” he told the AP.

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