The spokesperson for the Sons of Confederate Veterans said having the Confederate flag on their Georgia specialty plate is just a way to celebrate their southern heritage.
"We are not a racist organization," Ray McBerry said. "We have members of our organization that are of every race. There is nothing evil or wicked about our organization, or the love of our southern heritage."
The group has had a specialty plate with the Confederate flag for over a decade. McBerry said they were approached about updating the specialty license per the state's request.
Initially, McBerry said they wanted to have the flag on the background of the license along with the monument on Stone Mountain Park. The Confederate Memorial Carving depicts three Confederate heroes of the Civil War, President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.
"We are not in favor of revisionist history. We believe that whether you like all of the history that belongs to you or not, it is your history," McBerry said. "We believe it is in the best interest of all Georgians to learn from the good and the bad of the past, to make us a better people."
Rev. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church said the group's use of the Confederate flag is disgraceful, and in poor taste to promote southern heritage.
"I would ask them what part of the heritage are they celebrating," Warnock said. "There was a war after all, and at the center of that war was the question about the enslavement of human beings. Does the history of slavery and the raping of women and the pillaging of the people and the years of tyranny and terror, does that matter?"
Georgia removed the stars and bars from the state flag in 2001. It flew for nearly 50 years until the flag was officially changed to its current version in 2003.
Warnock said there is a reason why the state changed the flag and believes the specialty license plate should be changed, or removed as well.
"We have to continue to push against this notion that black people's lives don't matter, they do matter," Warnock said. "It is obvious, there is no good way to display a swastika. And, there is no good way to display a Confederate flag."
McBerry said a portion of the proceeds from the plate will go toward the upkeep of Confederate monuments across the state.
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Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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