Of the Confederate flag’s symbol, ‘you wouldn’t tear down the Parthenon’

Posted at 11:45 PM, Jun 22, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. -- It's been 150 years since the Civil War, and the signs of Richmond’s rich Confederate past is everywhere; monuments, museums, and memorials. Richmond was once the capital of the Confederate states, the seat of political power. While some Virginians still view the Confederate flag as a symbol of integrity and heritage, others see it as offensive.

For Harry Rolfe, the Confederate flag on the grave of Jefferson Davis at Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery is merely a sign of respect.

"He was president of the Confederacy, there's not other person that should have it-- near his grave --it's him," Rolfe said.

But Rolfe doesn't think the Confederate flag should be displayed outside of memorials like this.

Eileen Richman disagrees.

"If you think of it has a historical document, or historical representation of something- I mean you wouldn't tear down the Parthenon,” Richman said.

Historian John Coski wrote a book on the flag that's become America’s most embattled emblem.

"These are the flags in which men marched into battle, fought and died,” Coski said.

Adopted by the Confederate Congress in 1863, the flag was used to identify Confederate troops on the battlefield.

Later it became a sign of Southern nationalism.

"The flag inevitably then and now is associated with slavery -- but just slavery? No!"

Coski said it also represented those who fought for their right to succeed from the union.

It wasn't until the 1920s and again during the Civil Rights movement that Coski says the Confederate flag was used as a symbol by white supremacy groups like the Klan.

"This is a hate flag- not a flag of pride and freedom- like the American dream is," Richmonder Jabrea Brown said.

The Confederate has not flown on the grounds of Virginia’s state capital since the 1930s.

While remnants of the Confederate flag still exist in the state flags of four southern states, Virginia is not one of them.

Some believe that's the way it should be.

"If individuals want to hold onto that, it’s up to them, but it defintely shouldn't be part of the government portrayal."

The Virginia flaggers, the group that has erected two Confederate flags along I-95, released a statement asking those of Southern ancestry to resist any attempt to use the tragedy in Charleston as a platform to erase history.



Watch 'The Jennifer Hudson Show' weekdays at 3 p.m. on CBS 6!

📱 Download CBS 6 News App
The app features breaking news alerts, live video, weather radar, traffic incidents, closings and delays and more.