In 1860 and 1861, eleven southern states seceded from the United States to protect the institution of slavery, forming the Confederate States of America and sparking the U.S. Civil War. After the war, their flag was adopted as a symbol of Southern heritage at the same time as it represented slavery and white supremacy.

Today, the Confederate flag is regularly weaponized by neo-Nazis and far-right extremists as they seek to intimidate African Americans. The flag can also be used to target Jewish Americans, as it was when it was tied to the front doors of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in January 2021.

This program explored the contentious history and violent symbolism of the Confederate flag. Co-presented by the Museum, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, and the New York City Human Rights Commission, the program featured Jami Floyd, Senior Editor for Race & Justice at New York Public Radio, in conversation with a panel including:

  • Dr. Annette Gordon-Reed, the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of On Juneteenth;
  • Dr. Mab Segrest, Fuller-Maathai Professor Emeritus of Gender and Women’s Studies at Connecticut College and author of Memoir of a Race Traitor; and
  • Leo Ferguson, Director of Strategic Projects at Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, founder of the organization’s Jews of Color caucus, and author of their Understanding Antisemitism guide.

Watch the program above!

(Photo by: Reuters/Adam Anderson Photos)