A Montgomery lawmaker on Tuesday said Alabama should remove Confederate flags that fly outside the Alabama Capitol next to a towering monument to Confederate soldiers.
Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, said he will file a legislative resolution in the next legislative session to remove Confederate flags from the Capitol grounds.
“I think most people realize it’s divisive,” Holmes said. “It has no place on a public building.”
A spokeswoman for Gov. Robert Bentley said the governor did not have a comment at this time on whether the Confederate flags should remain on the Capitol grounds. Nor did he say whether he thought the state should stop issuing a vanity license plate for the Sons of Confederate Veterans that includes the battle flag.
The Alabama Legislature is expected to meet later this summer for a special session on the budget.
Four Confederate flags – the first three official flags of the Confederacy and the square-shaped Confederate battle flag – fly at each corner of an 88-foot-tall Alabama Confederate Monument beside the Alabama Capitol.
Calls to remove Confederate symbols that dot the Old South reignited after the massacre of nine people at a black church in South Carolina last week. The white suspect, Dylann Storm Roof, posed in photos displaying Confederate flags and burning or desecrating U.S. flags.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Monday that the flag should be removed from the Statehouse grounds. South Carolina, like Alabama, once flew the Confederate flag atop its Capitol but moved it to a nearby Confederate monument in 2000 during a compromise with black lawmakers.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he wanted the state to stop issuing the Confederate vanity license plates.
In Alabama, former Gov. George C. Wallace ordered the Confederate flag hoisted over the Capitol dome in 1963 during a fight with the federal government over ending school segregation.
Holmes led a fight in the 1990s to remove the rebel banner from the dome. A judge ruled against the state, which appealed. Then-Gov. Jim Folsom in 1993 made a decision that the Confederate flag, which was taken down in 1992 during dome renovations, would not be put back atop the Capitol when those renovations were complete.
“It was really a simple decision. We are no longer part of the Confederate government. I made the decision to remove it and get it behind us,” Folsom said.
Folsom said the decision was made to put the flags beside the Confederate monument to display them in “proper historical context.”
Gary Carlyle, commander of the Alabama chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said the flags represent Southern history. “Our prayers and concerns are about nine great citizens who got killed in South Carolina by an evil person.”
The Confederate Monument, which was erected in 1898, includes quotes paying tributes to Confederate soldiers including a poem excerpt calling them, “the knightliest of the knightly race.” Holmes said the monument is not as offensive as the flags, which he said have become a symbol of racism and hate.
Republished with permission of The Associated Press.