2021 and Beyond

Starting in 2015, at the murder of nine African-American worshippers at a South Carolina church by a young man enamored with Confederate iconography, protests against the public display of the Confederate flag has steadily increased. Most notably, the anti-flag sentiment compelled Mississippi’s legislature to change its state flag that had incorporated a Confederate battle flag since 1894. Predictably, there was and continues to be pushback from people who regard the flag as an honorable symbol of the Confederate fighting man and “southern heritage,” and as opposition to “political correctness.” It is likely that the Confederate flag will have a shrinking profile on the public landscape, but its ongoing use as a symbol of resistance to ever-changing social norms suggests that it harbors a potent meaning for many people. Either way, the Confederate flag will continue to engender strong and diverse reactions among Americans.

Images:“Tale of Two Nations” (2020)
A scorched Confederate flag lay inverted next to a United States flag at the Robert E. Lee Memorial in Richmond, Virginia, in the summer of 2020.
Richmond photographer Landon Shroder

Confederate flag in the United States capitol
A supporter of Donald Trump carried a Confederate flag through the United States Capitol during the January 6, 2021 “insurrection” against Congress’s certification of the electoral vote that would make Joe Biden the new U.S. president.
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images