By: Honor Williams
In United States history, there has arguably been no symbol that conjures up as much hatred,
violence, racial tension, and intolerance as the confederate flag. Just one quick glimpse of this
flag brings up the same sense of horror that it did back in 1861.
The confederate flag was created in 1861 in Fairfax City, Virginia as a way to distinguish
Confederate troops from Union troops. The image we consider the confederate flag was not the
original design of the Confederacy. The Confederate flag we call today was originally called the
Confederate Battle Flag, resembles the Southern Cross constellation with thirteen white stars for
each state in the Confederacy. Under the Confederacy’s first official flag, troops on the field
could not distinguish those with the American flag or those with the Confederate flags because
of their similarity. The first confederate flag consisted of the same stars and stripes concept of
the American flag, there were two red stripes and one white stripe with a blue square with eleven
stars. The second confederate flag used during the Civil War, which consisted of today’s
confederate flag in the upper left hand corner with the rest of the flag white, was disliked because
it was too similar to the white flag that symbolized a truce because the square with the Southern
cross could not be seen when hung limply or in calm air. The third confederate flag, which was
identical to the second flag except there was a red vertical stripe on the far right, was the final
flag adopted by the Confederacy. Today’s version of the flag is considered to be the Confederate
flag because it was the battle flag of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and the
Confederate Navy Jack, which was a maritime flag flown on the jackstaff in the bow of
Confederate vessels that were moored or anchored.
Although many argue that the Confederacy flag was never created as a symbol of racism, the
flag was adopted by extremist and white supremacist groups because the flag was used during
the Civil War by Southerners who wanted to preserve white supremacy by continuing the
enslavement of African-Americans. The Klu Klux Klan, a white supremacy and white
nationalism terrorist group, uses the confederate flags during rallies and almost every public
event as a symbol of their racial violence.
Today, especially at hate group rallies, it is easy to see people waving confederate flags and
wearing confederate flags on clothing. To have clothing manufactured featuring this symbol,
someone has to have it as a logo.
A flag can be trademarked as long as it is distinct enough and used to distinguish one’s goods or
services. The flag must not be a true representation of a flag of a foreign nation, a state, or the
There is difficulty tracking the use of the confederate flag because the live and dead
differentiation was not recorded until the 1980s. There are eighty-three marks using the
confederate flag; however, seventy-eight percent of the marks are dead. In the past the
confederate flag was used in trademarks for jeans, mops, boats, and shrimp. The confederate flag
was used in trademarks for Six Flags amusement parks and the NASCAR Southern 500 race.
In 2015, there were eighteen active trademarks using the confederate flag. States that still have
active trademarks using the confederate flag include: Oregon, Louisiana, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa,
Michigan, Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and
Pennsylvania. Since 2000, there have been forty-nine trademark applications filed with the
confederate flag, with about twenty-seven for clothing lines.
Several of today’s celebrities have adopted the use of the confederate flag in clothing. Andre
3000 wore a confederate flag on his belt buckle in OutKast’s “Ms. Jackson” video. Lil Jon was
wearing the confederate flag around his shoulders in his album cover for Lil Jon & the Eastside
Boyz “Put Yo Hood Up” album cover. Ludacris wore a Confederate flag outfit during his
“Georgia” performance at the VIBE Awards. Even Kanye West was seen wearing a confederate
flag jacket and later sold merchandise for his Yeezus tour featuring the flag. Their reason for
sporting the flag? Using a hateful symbol in an artistic form to bring healing to those tormented