Symbolism and future of Confederate battle flag discussed at forum

Published: Aug. 26, 2015 at 2:42 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 26, 2015 at 11:28 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - More than two dozen people gathered Tuesday night in Columbus to discuss the controversial symbolism of the Confederate battle flag.

The forum took place at the Mildred Terry Library, organized by the Southern Anti-Racism Network.

The group's founder, Theresa El-Amin called the discussion important especially in the wake of the recent shootings at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina. The man accused of killing nine parishioners at Emmanuel AME Church in June, Dylan Roof was seen in photographs posing with and waving the Confederate battle flag.  Authorities say Roof posted in several writings about his hatred of black people.

While some may feel the flag has no place in today's society, others say it's an important part of history that needs to be preserved. Lagrange attorney Alfred Zachry, one of the people attending the forum says it's time for the flag to be removed from government buildings and placed in a proper setting.

"It belongs in a museum - it's a part of history. I don't think we can go away from it or hide from it," says Zachry.  "It is a part of our history, just like all the rest of our history."

Georgia State Representatives Calvin Smyre and Carolyn Hugley were invited to participate in the discussion. They spoke about the history of Georgia's flag and racial symbolism.

Both lawmakers discussed their experiences in 2003 when Governor Roy Barnes led the initiative to remove the Confederate battle flag symbol from the Georgia state flag.

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