Saturday, April 01, 2006


The Sons of Confederate Veterans have launched a drive to add a vanity license plate in Florida featuring the Confederate flag, already offered in nine other southern states. Needless to say, the idea is controversial, and the group has an uphill battle here.

But there were a couple of interesting items to note as the effort was announced in Tallahassee Friday, according to the Tallahassee Democrat:

H.K. Edgerton, a former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, from Asheville, N.C., and Nelson Winbush of Kissimmee, a retired educator who traces his Southern lineage to a black soldier in Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest's command, joined the SCV call for a commemorative tag. The conference opened with "Dixie," with young men wearing Yankee and Confederate uniforms smiling and singing behind Edgerton.

"It is not racist to promote a common heritage," he said. "There will be those uninformed individuals who will attempt to categorize this plate in unflattering terms."

Winbush said "some young whites have the same problem about declaring their heritage" in the South.

Edgerton said many black people have been wrongly taught that the Confederacy stood only for slavery and oppression. But he said there were blacks fighting on both sides of the Civil War and that blacks should take pride in contributions to the region's culture.

Many people consider the Confederate flag an offensive reminder, and efforts have been underway for years to remove the "Stars and Bars" from state flags in Georgia and Mississippi (Georgia's new state flag was adopted three years ago; Mississippi continues to use the Confederate symbol in it's banner).

The effort to issue a vanity tag is difficult, at best. First, sponsors have to show the state that it would be worth it's time, effort, and expense to do so by surveying 30,000 vehicle owners who would sign a petition stating they would be willing to purchase the plate. Then, what I believe would be the most difficult step in the process, considering the nature of the plate: It has to meet with Legislative approval and receive the governor's signature.

I wouldn't hold my breath.


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