Racial tensions have emerged at a Virginia high school over use of Confederate battle flags in a school function and students are in the middle of it.
Students at Jefferson Forest High School in Forest, Va., donned American flags as well as Confederate flags as part of the school’s annual Spirit Week celebration on Feb. 4. The theme of the day was: “Country vs. Country Club.” At some point during the day, students posed for a Snapchat photo with their American and Confederate flags and other historical artifacts.
Among the collection students brought in were two rebel flags and two flags reading “Don’t Tread on Me,” a saying adapted into a song by country singer-songwriter Granger Smith. There was also one Gadsden flag, which was designed by American general and politician Christopher Gadsden during the American Revolution, that displays the same phrase,” according to Atlanta Black Star.
Even further, one female student decided to drape herself in the Confederate flag in the cafeteria and take a photo. She captioned her Snapchat picture in part, “If you got a problem with everything then suck it up, it’s history and heritage, wanna fight history then talk to Hitler I don’t care.”
Some students at the predominantly white school were noticeably offended, and now, the incident is raising concern with their parents, who have met with the local NAACP chapter to discuss the next steps.
“This is not about the flag. This is about the mentality behind the flag,” Robert Carson, president of the Bedford NAACP said to ABC 13. “This is about the mentality behind it and the things that are being said along with it. It is something that needs to be addressed and we intend to engage this whether as parents, grandparents.”
In an interview with The Washington Post, parents said seeing the Confederate flag-draped photos is really just an example of the racism Black students continue to endure at the school.
In fact, Talya Connor said her 10th-grade daughter has been called racial slurs in school and shrugged when she saw the Confederate flag photographs. “She was like, ‘This is just what happens here,’” the mother recalled to the Post.
JFHS doesn’t have a policy to ban Confederate flags unless it causes a disturbance. Superintendent Douglas Schuch told attendees at the Bedford County School Board meeting on Feb. 21 that administrators were taking the matter “very seriously.”
Additionally, school board member John H. Hicks Jr., has proposed a ban of “any symbols of racism or oppression such as the Confederate Flag or KKK symbols or anything of that nature,” but it isn’t clear where the board stands on that matter.