Georgia is at the heart of a new controversy after state officials approved a specialty license plate featuring the Confederate flag.
The specialty plates were requested by the Georgia division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Their previous plate featured a small battle flag. The new plates feature a larger version of the flag in the background.
The new license plates have angered civil rights groups, who view the flag as a throwback to the racially-charged past of the South.
"To display this is reprehensible," declared Maynard Eaton, the spokesman for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
"We don't have license plates saying 'Black Power.’”
According to Sons of Confederate Veterans spokesman, Ray McBerry, there was absolutely no intent to offend anyone. It was merely meant to be an homage to their proud Southern past.
The Confederate battle flag has become a symbol of repression and violence, not heritage http://t.co/xPbh91VFxb
— Rodney Ellis (@RodneyEllis) February 20, 2014
Georgia approves Confederate Flag license plate http://t.co/797zvUc8lw. They are NOT Americans
— bigflav (@bigflav) February 20, 2014
Said McBerry, "Southerners have as much right to be proud of their heritage as anybody else."
When asked about the plates, Gov. Nathan Deal said that he wasn’t even aware of them. In a comment on Tuesday, Deal said, "I'll have to talk to them about it. I had no information in advance about it."
If residents of Georgia wish to buy the plates it will cost $80; $10 of the fee will be paid to the directed to the Sons of Confederate Veterans. With the money that will be earned from the sales of the plates, the group says it intends promote Southern heritage through educational activities and preservation efforts.
The use of the Confederate flag continues to be a source of division throughout much of the Southern United States, especially for African-Americans, who associate the flag with slavery and Jim Crow legislation.
It’s likely the symbolic nature of the Confederate will continue to be controversial, regardless of whether or not the state of Georgia continues to make the specialty plates available.
Image via Youtube