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Heritage or hate?

A pedagogical guide to the confederate flag in post-race America

Cameron D. Lippard

Keywords: classroom debate; confederate flag; controversial topics; historically white colleges and universities; racial hatred; Southern pride

The Confederate flag has been a hotly debated symbol of heritage or hate in the United States. In 2015, 54 per cent of Americans polled saw the flag as a symbol of ‘Southern pride’ whereas 34 per cent saw it as racist. However, 27 per cent of Whites compared to 69 per cent of Blacks saw the flag as racist. In this article, I suggest how instructors can better explain this controversial topic within an America society that is ‘post-race’. First, I describe an opening activity to get students thinking about symbolism through flags. Next, I present a lecture that debunks myths about the flag’s meanings by presenting its factual history. Finally, I describe an open debate activity to complete the discussion and comprehension of the confederate flag. Student responses suggest that these lesson plans lead to a better understanding of its symbolism and its relationship to the continuing significance of racism in the U.S.

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