An Innocuous Symbol?

Not everyone viewed the “flag fad” and the flag’s widespread use as a popular emblem for southern-based American military units in the Korean War era as innocent or innocuous. The influential African-American newspaper, the Pittsburgh Courier, in 1951, decried the reappearance of “sinister and vicious forces'' that it saw “springing up in many sections of the country under the guise of an innocent fad.”

Pittsburgh Courier’s objection (1951)
A headline from the Pittsburgh Courier warned about the spread of the flag fad in this 1951 expose.
Chronicling America newspaper database, The Library of Congress

This patch, showing an eagle clutching a bomb superimposed over a Confederate flag, was adopted by the 149th Fighter Squadron of the Virginia Air National Guard in 1947. Despite the Courier’s objection to the flag’s use by the United States military, this patch continued in use until 1992 when the African-American weekly, the Richmond Free Press, drew attention to it.
ACWM Collections, 2001.006.1