CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - High flying Confederate flags are popping up across the state of North Carolina, with several in the greater-Charlotte area.
“That’s the epitome of racism,” one Charlotte neighbor said.
It’s a symbol that means different things to different people, but for centuries, it’s been polarizing Americans.
“It’s just our birthrights, that’s what I think.”
“Symbol for slavery.”
“A lot of men bled and died for it, you know?”
Burke, Catawba and Alexander are three of the six counties where giant Confederate flags are flying, primarily on well traveled highways and roads. They were planted by the Sons of the Confederate Veterans.
“It’s an education mission for us,” said Frank Powell.
Powell is from the North Carolina division of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans says the Confederate flags are not to incite racism, nor are they in retaliation to Confederate memorials being torn down like Silent Sam in Chapel Hill. Powell says the flags are to honor fallen Confederate war heroes.
“Each flag is dedicated to either a ‘Con’ officer or enlisted man or regiment or brigade or some other military unit.”
It’s also the goal of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans to place a Confederate flag in every county across the state of North Carolina.
“We have a project to place ‘Con’ flags in as many different locations across the state as we can.”
So will we be seeing any of these flags soaring defiantly over the Queen City?
“It’s not something that we ask for, it’s not something that we desire,” Chairman of the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners George Dunlap says.
Dunlap says any business owner who would welcome the Confederate flag probably won’t be in business very long.
“It leaves you speechless to think that somebody would invest their resources that way,” Dunlap said.
But many people do invest in this group. Donations are used to buy land from private citizens– preferably outside city limits-- away from city ordinances or regulations.
“The lengthy time is the land because we have to ownership of the land to make this work,” Powell said.
Some say the flags have no place in Charlotte, or elsewhere.
“We will fight it tooth and nail.”
Corine Mack, head of Charlotte’s NAACP says not in her backyard. She says her organization will fight any Confederate flag going up here and anywhere else in the state.
“A flag for people of color that symbolizes hate division harm rape murder,” said Mack.
Mack believes groups like this have been emboldened since the 2016 election.
“My forefathers we enslaved, that’s what that means to me.”
As for those who say the flag is associated with slavery, Powell says they’re mistaken.
“Mistaken and ill informed and that’s another reason for this project-- to get the flags out in the public eye so that we can have a conversation and we can explain the history of it and what it really stands for, and to show it’s not a symbol of hate.”
Mack disagrees, saying the flag does not symbolize unity or acceptance.
“If we say we love God, we have to love God’s people-- that’s all races and creed and color and religion-- and that flag does not symbolize that,” Mack said.
Free speech, or a symbol of hate, it seems the racial divide just got wider, as the South steps back in time and tries to rise once again.