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Perspectives on South Carolina's Confederate Flag

Bill Starr has a South Carolina lineage that predates the Revolution, and ancestors who fought in the Civil War for the Confederate States of America. But he wants the Confederate flag flying on the state capitol grounds in Columbia, SC to come down. Annabel Park of Story of America interviewed him on June 24, 2015 moments after he had waited in line for an hour to pay respects to the murdered Civil Rights leader, Senator, and Reverend Clementa Pinckney where he lay in state in the capitol rotunda.  Join the discussion of Bill Starr's video on Facebook. "It’s unbearable to think that a hundred and fifty years after the end of the Civil War, fifty years after the end of legal segregation, that people are still being murdered for the crime of having been the victims of the greatest crime in history, which is what slavery was,” said Starr. He recounted his Confederate ancestry but explains that they weren’t slave-owners, just poor people drafted “sent to fight for a bunch of rich slave owners to defend the most unjust institution in history, and there is no honor in that, there is nothing to be proud of in that. The 300,000 Confederate soldiers soldiers who died in that war were murdered by slavery just as surely as the millions who died on the plantations.” The Confederate battle flag was raised over the South Carolina capitol dome in 1962 as a symbol of defiance of the Civil Rights movement. In 2002, a compromise in the state legislature moved the flag to a Confederate war memorial in front of the dome, with the United States flag and the South Carolina state flag replacing the Confederate flag atop the dome. Continue reading

Someone had to teach him

Editor's Note: Author of Blood Done Sign My Name, historian, and one of the leaders of the Moral Monday movement, Timothy B. Tyson, posted this on his facebook page. We are printing it here with his permission. A young man wears Rhodesian and apartheid-era flags on his jacket. Both countries never existed during his lifetime. Both flags are commonly worn as in-group insignia among politically organized white supremacists. "You have to be carefully taught," as the old song from "South Pacific" puts it. He slaughtered nine African Americans in a church. Continue reading

I'm a born-again citizen

Editor's note: Annabel is one of the producers of Story of America. This is an auto-biographical story about how she became committed to being an active citizen.  This  is the oath that I took when I became an American citizen in June, 1991, in Boston: I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United  Continue reading

Black Boxes

Editor’s Note: This is an update to a powerful essay published on April 24, 2014 on storyofamerica.org, Not a Monster’s Daughter. It included this breathtaking line: "My name is Megan A. Collins, I am rape conceived and I should be afforded the right to my own history. This is my story." The update is in two sections: “Black Boxes" and "“Reflecting on the experience of publishing my story.” Black Boxes Though most adoptees could not imagine a time when record access would be open, on March 20, 2015, the state of Ohio opened all sealed adoptions finalized between 1964-1996. The option was given to birth parents to have their name redacted from the original birth certificate if they filed the correct forms by the March 19th deadline. A basic medical information packet was required to be completed for this to be an option. Of 400,000 records, one hundred and fourteen redactions were said to have been completed by the deadline. I had located my natural mother in 2011 after posting my birth information on an adoption website. A research assistant helped me to identify my birth name, Holly D Trexler, and locate my birth family. Continue reading

Baltimore Rising — Bob Zellner statement re. charges filed in Baltimore

On the historic day of May 1, 2015, I had the good fortune to be with Civil Rights legend Bob Zellner. In the early 1960's, Bob was arrested and tortured by police several times for leading peaceful Civil Rights demonstrations as the first white Southerner to serve as Field Secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Below is his written statement. Bob Zellner, May 1, 2015: Today is May Day, an international day of solidarity among working people.  On this May Day, 2015, people will take away different things from the actions of the young State’s Attorney in Baltimore, Marilyn Mosby, charging six police officers with serious crimes including murder in the death of Freddie Gray.  Continue reading