The South Carolina House of Representatives passed legislation early Thursday to remove the Confederate flag at the Statehouse, but they weren't the only ones who wanted to put the flag away.
Late last month, Josh Clark, a young Tennessee man and patriotic Southerner, posted a picture of himself with the flag on Facebook explaining that while he used to associate the flag with heritage and history, he's more recently come to the conclusion he was wrong and "the only place for the Confederate flag is in our history books."
"I had grown up seeing the flag regularly, and although I had seen it used in negative ways on occasion, I chose to accept the 'Heritage not hate' and 'Pride not prejudice' interpretation of the flag," he wrote. "If you had asked me back then, I would've told you that it was a symbol of Southern pride and had nothing to do with racism."
While the moving post was published June 27, it only appeared to gain viral traction from Tuesday onward, given the timing of the majority of comments. In the post, which has more than 120,000 likes, Clark writes that as an adolescent and young man, he often sported clothing emblazoned with the Confederate flag and even had a bumper sticker advocating the flying of the flag.
But when the Nashville native started thinking independently and autonomously while at university, he writes, he decided to do some research of his own.
"The more I researched about the history of the flag, the worse I felt. What I had been told about its history was wrong," he states. "Thousands of southerners still fly the flag with no racist intent. They still defend the good things they've been told about the flag. They, like I once was, are WRONG."
Clark grew up in a multicultural society, with many friends of disparate backgrounds, so he says racism was the farthest thing from his mind when he celebrated the Confederate flag. But when he came to properly understand its history, he could not separate a bigoted ideology from the flag itself.
"The flag is a symbol of a way of life that was wrong. Not that it needs to be stated, but slavery is one of the most evil and cruel things this world has ever seen. The Confederate flag represents this evil," Clark expounds.
"Where is the pride in that? The Confederate flag is also a sign of division. How can you truly be a patriot of this country and fly this flag? Do we really need to fly a flag to show that we are southern, or that we like to hunt and fish, especially when it's offensive to so many? It is not a kind thing, a good thing, or the right thing to do."
Many black Americans commented on Clark's post, expressing gratitude for his views, taking the time to share them and encouraging others to rethink the meaning of the flag too. A white man, Thomy Eaton, pertinently from North Charleston, South Carolina, simply wrote, "Amen brother."
Unlike the countless politicians who are debating what the flag stands for and where its place is in history, Clark took the time to do some straightforward research. He discovered it unequivocally represents an old version of the U.S., when slavery was the status quo, which should have nothing to do with the current iteration of this country. The Confederate flag was unthinkingly a part of many people's lives before the Charleston massacre. But, since that tragedy, the country was finally prompted into properly examining what the flag means and many discovered its a symbol of hate, not patriotism.