By: Peter Holley –
For many Americans, the Confederate battle flag is an unmistakable symbol of slavery and oppression.
But for Karen Cooper, a black woman who was born in New York but later settled in Virginia, the flag embodies something else entirely.
“I actually think that it represents freedom,” the ardent tea party supporter says in a video interview that’s been making the rounds online. “It represents a people who stood up to tyranny.”
Cooper is a member of the Virginia Flaggers, an activist group that rejects the idea that the Confederate flag is a symbol of racism and hate.[embedplusvideo height=”350″ width=”480″ editlink=”http://bit.ly/1T9j4Gx” standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/ubfgGXZx15M?fs=1&vq=hd720″ vars=”ytid=ubfgGXZx15M&width=480&height=350&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=1&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=¬es=” id=”ep1104″ /]
The group was formed in response to a decision to remove Confederate flags from public view in several locations, including a Confederate memorial chapel on the grounds of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond and city light poles in Lexington, The Washington Post’s Susan Svrluga reported last year.
Like the rest of the Flaggers’ 40 or so members, Cooper feels pride and reverence each time she displays the flag in
If the flag was a racist symbol, Cooper argues in the video, she wouldn’t be an accepted member of a group composed primarily of white Southerners.
“I’m not advocating slavery or think that, you know, it was right,” she says. “It wasn’t, and none of my friends think it was. It was just something that happened. It didn’t just happen in the South, it happened worldwide.”
Besides, she adds, slavery is “a choice.”
“I say that because of what Patrick Henry said: ‘Give me liberty or give me death.’ To me, if we had went back to that kind of slavery, no I couldn’t do it. Give me death.”
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