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Florida Senate: Seal won't display Confederate flag anymore

Florida Senate removed the Confederate battle flag from its official seal. In Tennessee, county commissioners voted down a proposal to fly the flag Monday. 

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    Chance White waves a Confederate battle flag as he drives away from Roseburg Regional Airport in Roseburg, Ore., Friday, Oct. 9, 2015.
    (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
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The Florida Senate is removing the Confederate battle flag from the chamber's official seal.

The entire Senate on Monday agreed to revise the seal that now contains the battle flag along with four other flags that have flown in Florida.

The Senate seal is located prominently in the Senate chambers in the Florida Capitol. Replicas of the seal appear throughout the Capitol and are included on Senate stationery.

A Senate committee had proposed replacing the Confederate battle flag with the current Florida flag. But Senate President Andy Gardiner told reporters that the Senate may consider altering the entire seal.

Sen. Arthenia Joyner asked the chamber to consider the change shortly after Dylann Roof was accused of killing nine people at a South Carolina church. Roof appeared in photos with the Confederate flag.

In Tennessee, protests erupted but the commissioners of Greene County, Tenn., rejected one commissioner’s proposal to fly the Confederate battle flag about the courthouse as a sign of the region’s “heritage and loyalties.”

Commissioner Randolph and his supporters echoed arguments that the battle flag is an integral part of Southern history, and ought to be respected as such. “It ain’t got anything to do with race or anything like that,” he told reporters from Tennessee news station WJHL.

As The Christian Science Monitor reported, the Confederate battle flag debate flared up after a racially motivated shooting that left nine black worshippers dead in June at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C..   Following the murders, South Carolinians engaged in a contentious public debate about the battle flag waving near the state capitol. State legislators voted to remove the flag in July.

Watching the flag be furled for good in Columbia, S.C., The Monitor’s Patrik Jonsson reflected on how a piece of cloth some treasure as “the distilled spirit of the South” was actually a relatively recent addition to Southern statehouses.

After the Civil War, the flag had little public role except as a museum piece – until 1961, when segregationists flew it to celebrate the war’s 100th anniversary. It stayed up to spite civil rights protestors as discriminatory laws were taken off the books in the 60s and 70s, gradually being diluted – for some – to a symbol of “Southern-fried rebellion: a quaint, youthful symbol that pop culture often treated with hilarity,” he wrote.

That reinvention coexisted with the flag’s legacy, “so horrific to many black people and others,” Mr. Jonsson wrote, “that it gave them chills just to be near it.” 

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