Florida artist announces plan to burn Confederate ‘flag of terror’ on Memorial Day
A Florida artist has vowed to stage burnings and “belated burials” of the Confederate flag as part of an exhibit he said would take place in multiple Southern cities on Memorial Day, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
“The Confederate flag is a flag of terror from its use by the [Ku Klux] Klan in the ’20s to the anti-civil rights movement in the ’50s and ’60s,” John Sims said. “The flag is almost too toxic to handle, and for those who do, I’m suspicious of their engagement. Are you in denial?”
The project is reportedly slated to take place in all of the former Confederate states, along with cities in Kentucky and Missouri. The exhibit is the latest in a series of works Sims has done involving the flag, saying he was inspired by how often he saw it after moving to Florida.
He has previously painted the flag red, black and green — the colors of the Pan-African or Black Liberation flag. According to Nashville Scene, the 2004 exhibit “The Gettysburg Redress,” Sims hung a Rebel flag from a noose, which he said prompted threats against his life from the Klan.
One of the “burial” events will be coordinated by Rollins College history professor Julian Chambliss in Orlando. Chambliss told WKMG-TV that he will put the flag into a wooden box and burn it, before scattering the ashes in a pond.
“When people talk about what the flag represents, they talk about it from a kind of mythology that’s been created by people who are very vested in trying to justify the things that they did,” said Chambliss, who also coordinates the college’s Africa & African-American Studies program.
A local member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, John Adams, said that while he respected Chambliss and Sim’s right to political speech, he questioned their choice to hold the event on Memorial Day.
“That’s a day for the soldiers,” said Adams, who had nine relatives who fought for the South. “Respect that day and let our boys who gave their lives rest in peace.”
The Sons of Confederate Veterans have not issued a statement regarding the exhibit.
Watch WKMG’s report, as aired on Thursday, below.