The Confederate Flag has long stood as a symbol of the South’s older ideals. The flag was originally only intended as the banner under which Confederate soldiers would march into battle -- the Stars and Bars had been the officially recognized flag of the Confederate Congress in 1861 -- but the Confederate flag became synonymous with the Confederacy, itself (Coski). To the South, the Confederate flag represented the sacrifices of the Confederate soldiers and it became synonymous with patriotic Confederate sentiment.
The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was established during the Reconstruction Era as a means of resisting Republican Party policies after the conclusion of the Civil War (“Ku Klux Klan”). The organization progressed to targeting black facilities including schools and churches, as well as harassing and murdering white and blacks who were perceived as enemies of Southern ideals. The organization adopted well-recognized white robes and pointed hoods which became symbols of KKK activity, especially while carrying out acts of intimidation and violence.
Today, the Confederate flag still retains much of its meaning to radical Southern supporters. On January 6th, 2021, a large mob of rioters descended upon the US Capitol to protest the results of the 2020 Presidential Election. Among those who overran the Capitol, some members of the crowd carried large Confederate flags. To this day, the Confederate Battle flag continues to symbolize sentiments leftover from the Civil War Era. Additionally, many monuments to major Confederate figures still stand in certain parts of the United States, but there has been a shift in sentiment: many monuments have either been torn down or removed by local governments over the past few years, but especially so in 2020.
Although slavery has long since been abolished in the United States, hatred and racism toward African Americans persist in pockets of the country. Radical hatred organizations like the Ku Klux Klan continue to operate despite law enforcement crackdowns. Nevertheless, overall participation in hate organizations has steeply declined in recent years as newer generations have expressed less interest in radical hate activity (Palmer).