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The Real Georgia State Flag
 
Presented by the
Georgia Division
Sons of Confederate Veterans
 
 
 
 
Southern Heritage is under attack. Among the many charges and attacks are those against the Georgia Flag as adopted in 1956,  let’s address this issue:
 
The charges are that the battle flag portion represents slavery and bigotry and also that our State flag was adopted in 1956 in defiance of the Brown Vs. Board of Education decision, which led to integration of schools.
 
NEITHER CHARGE IS TRUE. FLAG OPPONENTS CONTINUE TO MAKE THESE CHARGES BUT FAIL TO PROVE OR DEBATE THIS CLAIM. 
 
THE FACTS ARE: 
 
     Judge John Sammons Bell, Chief Judge of the Georgia Court of Appeals designed the 1956-2001 Ga. flag. He says that the purpose of the change was "to honor our ancestors who fought and died and who have been so much maligned." He denies any accusation that the flag change was proposed in defiance of integration saying "Anybody who says anything to the contrary is wrong or perpetuating a willful lie." Governor Carl Sanders, a Civil Rights Supporter, and Governor Ernest Vandiver were in the legislature when the flag change was made. Both agreed that the debate in the legislature over adoption of the new flag had nothing to do with integration or the Supreme Court decision. Neither the Atlanta newspapers nor any other newspaper of the day ever published anything, which indicated that the flag was being changed in defiance of desegregation decisions of the Supreme Court. The lie has been perpetuated.
 
THE SOUTH DID NOT FIGHT TO PRESERVE SLAVERY. 
 
     Slavery was protected in the U.S. Constitution.  All Southerners had to do was stay in the union to keep slaves had this been a major factor. When the war started, there were more slave states in the Union (8) than in the Confederacy (7). To have a war over slavery, one side would have to fight to end slavery. President Abraham Lincoln stated, "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or destroy slavery". He further promised to enforce laws that required runaway slaves to be returned. General U. S. Grant, Union Commander, stated that if he became convinced that the war was being fought to free the slaves, he would resign his commission and offer his sword to the other side. 
 
     Southerners were forced to pay most of the country’s taxes (the Morrill Tariff Act) to a central government that had strayed from the Constitution and denied the independence of the States as established by the founding fathers. Seven States formed a new country. When the Northern States raised an army and invaded the Southern States, the war began. Southern States only wanted freedom and independence. 
 
     Confederate General Robert E. Lee said, "All that the South has ever desired was the Union, as established by our forefathers, should be preserved." 
 
     The battle flag was adopted during the war so that Southern troops could distinguish their men from the enemy. The previous flag (Stars & Bars) looked too much like the Stars and Stripes. Both armies were shooting their own men. The battle flag was never an official government flag but it was the flag of the soldiers. 
 
     Black Southerners supported the Southern war effort in every way. Not only did they maintain the farms, help look after the women and children, and refuse to rise up against Southern white people as encouraged by the North, but also actually participated in the war effort. Tens of thousands of black Southerners served in the Confederate armies. THEY WERE INTEGRATED AND RECEIVED THE SAME PAY AS WHITES, WHICH DID NOT HAPPEN IN THE U.S. ARMIES UNTIL WORLD WAR II. Frederick Douglas, black leader in the North, said "There are at the present moment many colored men in the Confederate Army doing duty not only as cooks, servants, and laborers, but as real soldiers, having muskets on their shoulders and bullets in their pockets, ready to shoot down loyal troops and do all that soldiers may do.”
 
     Some 50,000 records in the National Archives exist on Black Confederates to prove this fact, and many were not recorded. 
 
     The NAACP has adopted a resolution calling for a "SYSTEMATIC EFFORT TO REMOVE ALL VESTIGES OF THE CONFEDERACY FROM PUBLIC DISPLAY." It is not just our flag but also all our symbols, monuments and even our culture that they wish to destroy (Cultural Genocide). All Southerners should be proud of our unique heritage. The Confederate battle flag is recognized around the world as a symbol of independence and self-determination. No other Americans have suffered so much and made such sacrifices as our Southern ancestors on behalf of Southern independence.
 
     There have been threats of a “boycott” of Georgia if we return to the pre 2001 Flag, let’s examine some of the recent
boycotts and evaluate their effectiveness.
 
     Either change the Georgia state flag back to its pre-1956 version or leave it alone, says the media and Chamber of Commerce, or Georgia's economy will suffer. The NAACP threatens us with an economic boycott on tourism just as they imposed on South Carolina. In the meantime, does anyone give the public any factual data to support these assertions other than use this as a “scare tactic”? Upon what basis do we conclude that the 1956 flag had an effect, positive or negative, on the state’s economy?
 
     Let us look at South Carolina where the NAACP boycott is in full force. The S.C. Dept. of Parks, Recreation & Tourism has recently released the following data: Tourism in S.C. created a record economic impact up from 11.1 % to $15.65 billion from last year. Investment in tourism related businesses is up 66.5%. Tourism related tax receipts increased 9.7 %. Visitor spending hit a record $7.14 billion. This is the same threatened boycott that is supposed to panic business leaders in Georgia? Furthermore, when BMW built their plant in South Carolina & Mercedes their plant in Alabama both states flew the Confederate battle flag over their state capitols.
 
            Now, let us consider Mississippi, where a study commission in 2000 came to the conclusion that a vote on their state flag would end the fight once and for all. They reasoned that people who cared the most, who caused the most stir, were most likely to go to the polls.
 
             In April of 2001, that vote was taken and fully two thirds of those who cared voted for their current flag, even though it sported a Confederate emblem.
 
            The bigots in the media had a field day with doom and gloom predictions for Mississippi and the high costs such a vote would have on its economy. But did it really have a negative effect? Here are some state government figures:
 
Mississippi CY 2001 Visitor Profile Highlights
 
35 million total visitors (person-trips), a 3% increase over the 34 million in CY 2000.
 
83% of the 13 million 2001 Overnight Leisure Visitors were from out-of-state.
 
“Getaway Weekend” was the top 2001 “Purpose of Stay” for Mississippi (ditto for 2000). In reviewing the total visitors to Mississippi for 2001, the big upward “spike” was in the “Day Leisure” component (day-trippers). They increased from 10.3 million in CY 2000 to 13.9 million in CY 2001, a 35.5% increase.
 
The Overnight Leisure component was “up” by about 4.8% - 12.4 million in CY 2000 to 13.0 million in CY 2001.
 
The 13.9 million “Day Leisure” plus the 13.0 million “Overnight Leisure” segment accounted for 77% of the 35 million total visitors (person-trips) to MS in CY 2001.
 
Business Travelers (person-trips) to MS decreased by 28.4% (-28.4%) from CY 2000 to CY 2001. This was based upon 8.1 million Business person trips in CY 2001 and 11.3 million Business person-trips in CY 2000. Both Overnight Business volume (-22.1%) and Day Business volume (-32.5%) suffered “dramatically.” (The decline was most likely related to the terrorist attack in New York in September.)
 
Selected Fiscal Year (FY) 2002 Indicators/Updates
 
3,134,337 patrons at Mississippi Welcome Centers, a 4.7% increase over FY 2001.
 
Mississippi’s Gross Gaming Revenues increased by 2.4% from FY 2001 to FY 2002.
 
Mississippi had 53,833 statewide Hotel/Motel rooms as of June 30, 2002, a 3.8% increase over the 51,870 in place as of June 30, 2001.
 
The estimated statewide Hotel/Motel Occupancy Rate in FY 2002 was close to 60%.
 
Statewide Tourism & Recreation Revenues for FY 2002 appear to indicate an increase of about 2%, a smaller growth rate than in previous years.
 
It is “likely” that Tourism & Recreation City/County Tax Revenues will increase by about 2.6% from FY 2001 to FY 2002 and that Tourism & Recreation General Fund Revenues will reflect a 2.5% increase from FY 2001 to FY 2002 (not official yet).
 
It is “likely” that Tourism & Recreation Employment will reflect a “slight decrease” of under 1% (somewhere between –0.2% and –0.6%) from FY 2001 to FY 2002, following the 1.4% decline in Tourism & Recreation Employment from FY 2000 to FY 2001. In other words, while Tourism & Recreation Revenues were slightly up, the Employment remained flat/perhaps a tiny decline.
 
            Now let us look briefly at the history of economic growth in Georgia under the 1956 flag. Census data shows an increase in population from approximately 3.6 million in 1956 to 7.7 million in 2000. Yearly Per Capita Income rose from approx. $1,400 in 1956 to an estimated $27,000 in 2000. The Gross State Product has increased from approx. 9 billion dollars to an estimated 275 billion dollars in 2000. Industry has thrived under the 1956 flag. For example, Delta Airlines chose to make Georgia its home base in the '60s. Home Depot and CNN both were created and prospered under the Confederate banner. Coca Cola, the invention of Confederate Captain John Pemberton, has grown in Georgia to be an international giant.  All this progress made under the 1956 flag.
 
            Growth in Georgia has been so explosive that Gov. Roy Barnes created the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (G.R.T.A.) to reign in and control runaway growth and its accompanying sprawl that threaten the quality of life in Metro Atlanta and other parts of the state. However, one municipality has not shared in the growth and prosperity of the region, despite millions of dollars in state and federal funds that have been poured into it. That city is Atlanta itself. Following the election of Maynard Jackson as Mayor in 1973 and throughout each succeeding administration we have seen Atlanta lag behind the rest of the metro area. Interestingly enough, Atlanta has been the leader in the attack on Southern symbols refusing to fly the 1956 flag at any city controlled venue for years.
 
            Now let us examine the data on the city of Atlanta. Data provided by the U.S. Census, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Research Atlanta Inc., The Selig Center at UGA and others. Atlanta has seen its population drop from 495,000 in 1970 to 403,000 in 1998 almost a 20% decline. Metro Atlanta on the other hand has grown from 1,761,000 in 1970 to 3,541,000 in 1996. Manufacturing in Atlanta dropped 28% from 1980 to 1995. If we compare the data on Metro Atlanta's growth to the decline of the city of Atlanta one could make the case that the 1956-2001 flag had been a positive influence where it has been flown and the pre-56 flag a negative influence on the city of Atlanta.  These are the facts, not hyperbole.
 
            What was the business climate like in Georgia during 2000, while we were still flying the Saint Andrews Cross on our flag. The Atlanta Constitution reported Metro Atlanta was in the top 10 locations ( #5 ) for venture capital investment with 714 million invested in the 1st quarter of 2000. Forbes Magazine reported Metro Atlanta to be the 2nd best place in the nation to do business. Tom Cousins reported a second Silicon Valley forming here, with 46,000 high tech jobs being created here between 1993-1998. How can this growth be explained in light of these politically correct assertions regarding the 1956 flag? The answer is simple, based upon the facts, there is no dilatory effect.
 
            We are told that the 1956 flag was an embarrassment to Georgia and would retard growth in the 21st century if not replaced. Why have business leaders, the media and politicians not presented this information to the public in any forum dealing with this matter? Could it be that the Gwinnett Co. Chamber of Commerce, following the lead of the city of Atlanta, decided to use the pre-56 flag as a instrument to control growth in that county which grew from 43,000 pop. in 1960 to 441,000 in 2000? Next, based purely on the real figures, we may expect G.R.T.A. to require municipalities with runaway growth and sprawl to revert to the pre-56 flag also.
 
            In any debate regarding which flag best represents the state of Georgia, these questions should be addressed:
 
1. What flag flew over the era of Jim Crow? The pre-‘56 flag
2. What flag flew when Hank Aaron played ball in Georgia for the Braves? The 1956-2001 flag
3. What flag flew when Herschel Walker & Charlayne Hunter went to UGA? The 1956-2001 flag
4. Under what flag has Georgia experienced unprecedented growth and prosperity? The 1956 –2001 flag
5. Under what Flag were the majority of the Civil Rights Laws in Georgia enacted? The 1956-2001 flag
 
            So many still need to learn that Confederate Symbols represent the heritage of all Southern people, and not hate
 
            Old South symbols have not cost the business community a single dime. What has cost them is the half billion dollars that metro business spent in frivolous lawsuits  by the same groups attacking Southern heritage. What is at play, is that some business leaders see this as a way to cheaply keep these leeches off their doorstep. Shameful! Our Georgia Department of Industry, Trade, & Tourism has proven that visitors come South expecting to see and enjoy Southern symbols.
 
            The average voting citizen is of sufficient intelligence to realize that business leaders and the race profiteers they ingratiate themselves to cannot profess a desire for tolerance and diversity in the workplace, as well as society at large, and then perpetuate the very intolerance they claim to be against. They lack the strength to face anti-Southern bigots, those who demand the censorship of the heritage of another group in society, and demand their tolerance. It is as simple as that. As was seen in the last gubernatorial race, no amount of money can make a voter believe a fantasy.
 
            To make the case that a South which displays proudly its rich heritage is somehow at an economic disadvantage, one must use facts and figures. Sheer wishful bigotry will not suffice. The evidence thus far does not indicate any economic disadvantage. Attempted boycotts called for by individuals and groups profiting by perpetuating hatred and distrust among the races, has no monetary effect.
 
            Regions around the world market and sell their heritage to the touring public and no region has more to offer than that which enjoys more books written about it than any other; the most famous region in the world: the South.
 
Visit our Georgia Division SCV website site at: http://www.georgiascv.com Or call us at 1.866.SCV IN GA