Chattooga courthouse flies Confederate battle flag | www.myajc.com

10
Apr

Chattooga courthouse flies Confederate battle flag | www.myajc.com

SUMMERVILLE, Ga. — One hundred fifty years ago this week, Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomatox, ending the Civil War and, with it, the Confederacy.

All these years later, the Confederate battle flag still flies in the hearts and minds of some Southerners. And today it flies for real at the Chattooga County Courthouse in Summerville.

At the start of what is recognized in Georgia as Confederate History Month, the flag debate is beginning to roil this small mountain county of 26,000. It is a story of warring sensibilities and allegiances, one that may take days or weeks to resolve. But it may leave resentment on both sides for years to come. It begins last year, when the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans persuaded Chattooga County Commissioner Jason Winters to fly a rotation of Confederate flags outside the historic courthouse in Summerville.

Winters said that calls began rolling in 10 days ago, when the classic square Confederate battle emblem went up. Many were from African-American residents, he said — Chattooga is 83 percent white and 10 percent black — but he also began hearing from the business community, expressing concern that the flag was being flown on county property.

“The blame lies solely with me,” Winters said in an interview Friday afternoon. “Our county has made tremendous progress over the last several years, and I’m hearing that this sets us back. We cannot allow this to be a divisive issue for us, and I will not allow this. I should have put more thought into the placement of the monument and how we rotate the flags. This is going to be a tough one to work through.”

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