Four decades ago, I thought the issue of the Confederate battle flag and public buildings in Alabama was coming to an unceremonious end.
Lee County’s Fob James had been elected governor, and his young band of future new bureaucrats who called themselves the “James Gang” wanted to leave much of the stigma decades of leadership Wallace administrations behind. James' young professionals were largely Auburn and Duke University educated and were proclaiming a “New Beginning” in Alabama.
About the time of the January 1979 inauguration, a group from the James administration, led unofficially by Jack Miller, who would also serve as chair of the Alabama Democratic Party, snuck onto the grounds of the State Capitol in Montgomery and removed a Confederate flag that was mostly ceremonial. The official flag still flew on the dome but the hold of the Confederate symbol had been delivered a blow.
Later, when the flag was taken from the dome, it was done so with reduced fanfare.
The Confederate battle flag issue popped up again this past week when the Trump administration announced it would consider re-naming military bases named for Confederate generals. That could be a controversial task. Since there are said to be 10 such facilities, according to the Internet sources. They include Fort Rucker in Alabama and nearby Fort Benning in Georgia and Fort Bragg in North Carolina. I suspect that if the administration begins changing these legendary bases’ names, it will create a major controversy.
Meanwhile, Mobile has found a common-sense solution on the issue —put a statute of a Confederate admiral in a museum rather than destroy or deface it.
The statue of Admiral Raphael Semmes, which was displayed in the middle of downtown Mobile for about 120 years, is now displayed in The History Museum of Mobile.
Retired Auburn Attorney Don Eddins is publisher of The Auburn Villager newspaper and the online publication, auburnvillager.com. Before going into law, he was state Capitol reporter for The Huntsville Times and state editor for The Columbus Ledger. In college, he was sports editor of The Auburn Plainsman. Email him your comments about the newspaper to firstname.lastname@example.org.