As the national conversation on the Confederate flag continues to unfold, some supporters of the flag took their message directly to the president of the United States by lining the route of his motorcade through Nashville on Wednesday.
President Obama visited Taylor Stratton Elementary School in Nashville, Tennessee, to speak about the Affordable Care Act, which a Supreme Court ruling last week kept intact. It was there that protestors gathered, The Tennessean reported.
It was the deadly church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17 that ignited the national debate over the Confederate flag. Photos of suspect Dylann Roof and a manifesto attributed to Roof appeared online in the days after the shooting, underscoring the racially-based nature of his alleged crime. Among the photos were several of Roof appearing with a Confederate battle flag, a symbol that has long been defended by white Southerners as part of their “heritage” while serving as a difficult reminder of slavery during the Confederacy for African-Americans.
“For too long we were blind to the pain that the confederate flag stirred in our citizens… The flag has always represented more than ancestral pride,” Obama said during his emotional eulogy for Charleston shooting victim Rev. Clementa Pinckney last week. “For many, black and white, that flag was a reminder of systemic oppression. It’s true a flag did not cause these murders. But the flag was a reminder of oppression. By taking down that flag, we express God’s grace.”