African American college student Byron Thomas has been thrown in to the national spotlight behind his support of the Confederate flag. The 19 year old student at the University of South Carolina Beaufort proudly mounted the banner in his dorm room window because, in his words, “When I look at this flag, I don’t see racism. I see respect, Southern pride… This flag was seen as a communication symbol” during the Civil War. And Byron Thomas is aware of the irony of it all admitting, “I know it’s kind of weird because I’m black.”
Thomas removed the flag from his window at the university’s request, but as AP reports, he’s considering putting it back up after school officials relented; because after all, Thomas sees the banner as a symbol of Southern pride, rather than racism.
Allegedly, a class research project helped Thomas to ‘realize’ that the “flags’ real meaning had been hijacked.” He told AP that he wants people to thoughtfully consider issues of race and not just knee-jerk reactions to such symbols.
University officials asked Thomas to remove the flag from his window, just before Thanksgiving, after receiving a swell of complaints from parents and students who spotted it on display while touring the campus. Since that time, the school administration has told him he can remount it.
“I’ve been getting a lot of support from people. My generation is interested in freedom of speech,” Thomas said. He says he believes that his generation is capable of eliminating the flag’s negative connotation by embracing it as a symbol of Southern pride, his parents share a different view, and object to the notion that Confederate flag is somehow a symbol devoid of malice. “I don’t want to make my parents mad,” he said. “I may wait until Monday to put it up.”
The AP report also states that the North Augusta native is non too pleased with labels, including the term “African American,” which according to him makes him feel like “a half-citizen,” since he wasn’t born in Africa.
It’s unclear as to whether he’s plotting a path towards a career in GOP politics in the future, but for what it’s worth, here’s this young brotha’s appeal for ‘Confederate Power’ via YouTube…: