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Kennington Avenue

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

The Confederate flag

Not just a symbol of heritage but a symbol of white supremacy and racial terror. You cannot dress this up. I grew up in a place where the Confederate flag was draped in the back window of pick-up trucks driven by white men with their rifles also in the back window visible for all to see. The visibility was purposeful. Both were meant to intimidate Black citizens. The message being sent by those white men was that they were willing to fight for the way of life and the privileges that their color had favored them with since the beginning of America. Even if it meant killing every Black person who stood in their way. Congressman John Lewis spoke in the halls of Congress today and he said in part that as he was marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge that he saw law enforcement with the symbol of the Confederate flag painted on the side of their helmets. Those law enforcement people had no regard for those who were marching across that bridge to fight for their Constitutional right to vote. You may recall that these officials charged with the duty of upholding the law would engage in a vicious reign of terror and attack upon innocent men, women and children. The killer of the 9  African-American people at Mother Emmanuel AME Church understood the meaning of that flag. He heard its message loud and clear and he set out to reign down terror on a people and on a community that he considered to be beneath him and a threat to his very being as a “white person.”author-photo

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About the author

Ken Wheeler is a retired pastor. He most recently served at Cross Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Milwaukee, where he is now the director of the Bread of Healing Empowerment Ministry. For 18 years he was as an assistant to the bishop of the Greater Milwaukee Synod of the ELCA.