Freedom. A loaded word that lets us act according to our own wills, even at the expense of trapping others. It’s freedom that lets us speak our minds without censorship, and it’s freedom that allows a group in Tampa to fly a confederate flag at the intersection of interstates 75 and 4. Towering over Tampa, the city’s second largest flag will fly above the intersection of wrong and right, black and white, progression and regression.
On the day the “southern heritage” flag was raised, cars drove by below. Passerby stopped and stared. Occasional truck drivers honked their horns and gave a thumbs-up sign, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times reported. A reminder of what so many tried for so long to forget, standing tall with pride for all to see. “Welcome to my city,” the flag will boldly say when it’s raised again, forgetting that this city belongs to not one group, but many. A few miles south on 275, an American flag already blows. “Welcome to our city” it says.
The unwelcoming flag is the antithesis of freedom for black men and women, and yet it is because of freedom that the flag can fly. For all the progress that has been made, for all the acceptance that has been gained, many wonder why some still want to fly flags like this. At the intersection of southern heritage gone wrong, confederacy detours us from the freedom that so many fought so hard to gain. No doubt, the city’s confederate flag has already torn and divided people, but what has been torn by freedom can be mended by freedom.
Some suggest that the way to respond to the flag’s presence is to challenge its dominance by erecting Old Glory above it. You can read more of the ongoing discussion about this idea here.