Parents gave me Confederate flag: protection

confederate-flag-1-1024x768Steve Morris,
Seattle, WA.

In the mid-1950s my father made a business trip from our home in Connecticut to Florida and back. He decided to make the trip by car, and to take my mother, my brother, and me along with him for a family travel experience. In the Deep South I witnessed undisguised segregation for the first time. I was 10 years old. At a gas station I asked the attendant why there were different bathrooms and drinking fountains. I told him my best friend in Connecticut was “a negro” (the terminology hadn’t changed yet). and I described how we did all the same things at school, and used all the same facilities. The attendant said, “Well that’s not the way we do it down here, sonny.” My parents, watching this exchange, sensed an edge — and perhaps a threat — to the man’s tone. They instructed me to address my questions to them in the future, and they bought me a little Confederate flag. I carried it everywhere, waving it around as I would have any other colorful souvenir. I was unaware of any meaning it might carry beyond its attractive surface. Years later my parents told me their side of the story, and explained that the flag was intended to smooth our journey through the South, and perhaps to provide a degree of safety. They had been more concerned than they let on, about the gas station attendant’s tone.

 

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