© 2023 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Central Standard

Confederate Flag Is A Sign Of Warning, Slavery And 'Home' To Kansas Citians

Cyrus Farivar

White trash, bigotry, honor and home.

Those were just some of the words that Kansas Citians used to describe the Confederate flag when we asked, "What does the Confederate flag mean to you?" in our online and on-air Tell KCUR poll this week.

The sentiments echoed a national discussion on the Confederate flag in light of recent shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, which has provided a polarizing debate.

At odds are people defending the flag for its roots to Southern heritage one one side. On the other, members of the public are outraged over the flags being flown at government buildings because of its ties to racism and slavery.

In Kansas City, most of the people responding to our question online or through social media sided on the latter, at some points using strong, vivid language.

John McConnell, of Shawnee, Kansas, wrote: "It means pro slavery. It means white trash. It means southern, right wing, extremists. It's like Shiite Americans."

But a handful of people expressed more flattering feelings about the symbol.

An Overland Park, Kansas, woman, who called in anonymously to our Tell KCUR phone line, said the flag represents "honor and protection." Another caller, who grew up in the south, said the flag reminded her of "home."

Ken Kessler, of Raymore, Missouri, said the flag symbolizes states' rights, and took the media to task for the way it portrays the banner.

"It's a shame that it's been hijacked for racial separation and is being used as a divisive issue by the major media outlets which KCUR/NPR seem to tag along," Kessler wrote in an email.

Of the feedback we received from people saying they associated the flag with racism, several described it as a sign of danger for them.

"To me, the #battleflag is a warning sign. A clear indication that I'm not welcome, and I appreciate it," Marcus Turner (@marcusaturner) tweeted.

Sarah Folz, of Kansas City, likened the flag to another symbol associated with hate.

“I strongly feel that this would be like a German insisting that the swastika is a symbol of national pride; obviously, intentionally and maliciously hurtful," Folz wrote in an online form.

Melissa Carlson, of Overland Park, recalled her childhood in Virginia. She said she read “Gone With the Wind” like all of her teen girlfriends, but when she sees the Confederate flag, her mind goes to Looney Tunes.

“I see stupid Southern cartoon characters, usually with guns, like Yosemite Sam. Foghorn Leghorn types, who lived for the 'glorious cause' of the plantation South," Carlson told us in an online form.

She added: "I knew boys in Virginia who had Confederate wallpaper in their rooms. That's probably the second thing I think of."

Here's a roundup of some of the other responses we received on Twitter:

Tell KCUR is part of an initiative to engage the community and shine a light on your experiences and opinions. We’ll ask a new question every week and then share your feedback on the air and online. Check out our arsenal of questions and your answers.

Central Standard TellKCUR