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‘It is White supremacy’: CNN speaks to son of Buffalo massacre victim

Interestingly, the Confederate flag’s widespread use is relatively recent. Originally the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia (and often incorrectly referred to as the ‘Stars and Bars’), it didn’t gain popularity among Southerners until the mid-20th century—nearly 100 years after the Civil War had ended.

Even some of the states that display it prominently only started doing after World War II. According to a 2000 report by the Georgia State Senate research office, Georgia incorporated the Confederate logo into their state flag in 1956 as a symbol of resistance against the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, which ruled that segregating schools was unconstitutional. The same report said that in 1961, Alabama Governor George Wallace raised the Confederate flag over the State Capitol dome in Montgomery to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Civil War. The same year, South Carolina raised the battle flag on the grounds of its Capitol.

The Atlantic wrote in 2012 that “the flag’s most lasting legacy—and the source of much of the controversy today—can be traced to its use as a symbol of ‘Massive Resistance’ by the Dixiecrats beginning in 1948.” This legacy, writer and Civil War historian Kevin M. Levin adds, continued on “through the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s.”

— Brian Ives, June 26, 2015