Black student from North Augusta won't hang Confederate flag

Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011 10:43 AM
Last updated Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011 5:02 AM
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Byron Thomas has decided not to hang a Confederate flag in his dorm room window at the University of South Carolina Beaufort.

Byron Thomas  Rachel Heaton/Associated Press
Rachel Heaton/Associated Press
Byron Thomas

The 2011 North Augusta High School graduate displayed the flag after Labor Day and took it down just before Thanksgiving, after he was asked to by campus officials because they had received complaints.

University officials later decided he could hang the flag because they did not want to inhibit his freedom of speech.

That brought Thomas, who is black, national attention. He does not see the Rebel flag as racist, but as “a symbol of Southern pride/heritage.”

“Only an ignorant/racist person can make that flag a racist symbol,” he said in an e-mail.

Even so, Thomas decided not to display the battle flag again because the focus had shifted to free speech and away from holding to traditional views.

“I want people to see that I was fighting for more than my freedom of speech,” he said. “I want my generation to see that it’s time for us to start forming our own opinions about things, so we will not be divided by the same things the last generation was divided by.”

If his generation doesn’t put a stop to certain things, such as racism, then it might never end, he said.

Thomas hung the flag after doing a class project. He wrote a research paper about the Confederate flag and had to persuade the class of its meaning.

“All it was is a symbol that people give power to,” he said. “I (had) never researched it, so I didn’t want to judge something that I didn’t have enough information about.”

Comments (17) Add comment
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aggrevatedparent
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aggrevatedparent 12/06/11 - 12:36 pm
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Byron should be proud of

Byron should be proud of himself! His parents should be proud of him and the job they've done raising him! Finally someone sees the real meaning of the flag and not the incorrect notions associated with it. This young man is going to make a difference in this world. Thank GOD!! Proud to be from NA too.

RoadkiII
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RoadkiII 12/06/11 - 01:05 pm
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Kudos to this young man.

Kudos to this young man. Maybe his views will spread and influence others.

elyag0
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elyag0 12/06/11 - 01:34 pm
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Yahoo A young man of a new

Yahoo A young man of a new generation who is smart. If everyone of his generation thought like this, we would all have a new day in this world.

onlysane1left
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onlysane1left 12/06/11 - 01:40 pm
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Still this young man is

Still this young man is making a great proclamation about symbols, does this now mean native americans can go back to using swastikas on their items?

Haki
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Haki 12/06/11 - 02:15 pm
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I once wanted to be accepted.

I once wanted to be accepted.

Iwannakno
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Iwannakno 12/06/11 - 03:31 pm
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He's showing that he thinks
Unpublished

He's showing that he thinks for himself instead of following other's perceptions. People could learn a few things from this young man.

CobaltGeorge
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CobaltGeorge 12/06/11 - 03:37 pm
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I respect this man and call

I respect this man and call him a true American.

painfully honest
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painfully honest 12/06/11 - 09:00 pm
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I'm glad that kid finally
Unpublished

I'm glad that kid finally came to his senses. I realize the flag is just a piece of cloth but historically, it has been the banner of bigotry and racial hatred. All of you know this and refuse to admit it. This kid is just too young to understand its dark significance in history. You say it doesn't matter but try to sell your beliefs to the family of the thousands of blacks that were lynched by people flying the "stars and bars" as their banner. How about we all dress in sheets with pointed hats since they don't mean anything either.

happychimer
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happychimer 12/06/11 - 09:59 pm
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OMG! I agree with Cobalt.

OMG! I agree with Cobalt. It's gonna rain!

star
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star 12/06/11 - 11:49 pm
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Awesome young man; his

Awesome young man; his parents should be very proud of him. Wish we had more people like him - this world would be a better place.

KSL
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KSL 12/06/11 - 11:59 pm
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He is an awesome individual.

He is an awesome individual. He will do well in life.

mjct1
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mjct1 12/07/11 - 04:14 am
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When an African American

When an African American approves racial injustice, he is alright. When he disapprove it, he is Rev. Al Sharpton. HMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!! History has proven the flag is a symbol of racial injustice. Please, prove other wise. Yes the flag has a heritage, maybe an injust association, BUT IT IS THERE! The Confederate Army flew this flag has a symbol of their unity. They fought not to change the way of life. The KKK used this flag as a symbol of unit. They to fought not to change the way of life. That is written and documented HISTORY! A very influential school asked that the flag not be flown to AVOID a racial incident. Again, understand the flag true meaning was flown for individuals that wanted to fight against changing the way of life. The Civil War had an issue of freeing slaves. Please provide documented information for a different perspective.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 12/07/11 - 07:17 am
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mjct1, maybe you should

mjct1, maybe you should contact Byron Thomas and have him send you his research paper. Evidently he did not come to the same conclusion as you.

“I want my generation to see that it’s time for us to start forming our own opinions about things, so we will not be divided by the same things the last generation was divided by.”

strib1
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strib1 12/07/11 - 09:15 am
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been saying that all along...

been saying that all along... flag is not racist.. if people would look back it is where i am from and and the song is not racist either. just people are raacist,, i think. know some clubs that are and they are on the otherside of the fence , you think??

strib1
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strib1 12/07/11 - 09:16 am
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good luck to mr thomas...

good luck to mr thomas... maybe he can make a diff.....

TELLITLIKEITIS1
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TELLITLIKEITIS1 12/07/11 - 10:08 am
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I don't fully support his

I don't fully support his theory, but I know it's coming from a good place... I love his statement "I want people to see that I was fighting for more than my freedom of speech,” he said. “I want my generation to see that it’s time for us to start forming our own opinions about things, so we will not be divided by the same things the last generation was divided by.” Now, if everyone had this mindset...the world would be a better place

UrbanMeyerHater
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UrbanMeyerHater 12/07/11 - 11:17 am
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What a wonderful guy (whether

What a wonderful guy (whether he actually believes what he said about the flag or not). And yes, im white. All you racists that think he's an uncle tom, hes gonna be your employer one day. Better be nice.

hardtobelieve
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hardtobelieve 12/07/11 - 12:10 pm
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The "newest" version of the

The "newest" version of the state flag is still a conferderate flag. It's based on the original design of the First National Flag of the Confederacy.

mjct1
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mjct1 12/07/11 - 11:12 pm
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InChristLove-First, It was

InChristLove-First, It was not a conclusion, it was a document supported fact. Secondly, due to your sign name, I can understand the position in which you take because your believe desire a God like presence of Love and Unity. I must also say that many young people want to act like that the past is not true. That is there right. The Older Generation has the right also to know what is true because they BEEN THERE! Because I believe (and Thank God for your upholding of his banner) your spiritual nature wants love, you understand that we have to know what kind of creature we were to know when we "become a new creature in Christ." I say that for this, no knowledge of where you were makes it hard to determine if you have changed for the better or know you have progressed.

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