Byron Thomas, a 19-year-old black student at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, has drawn complaints for hanging a Confederate flag in his dorm room window. He saw the flag, flown by the South during slavery, as a symbol of Southern pride, not racism.
Thomas took the flag down at the university's request, but said he's considering putting it back up. In a video, he posted online (below), Thomas acknowledges: "I know it's kind of weird because I'm black."
He said a class research project made him come to the belief that the flag's real meaning has been hijacked: "When I look at this flag, I don't see racism. I see respect, Southern pride. This flag was seen as a communication symbol" during the Civil War.
He said university officials asked him to take the banner down just before Thanksgiving after students and parents complained during campus tours, but have since told him he can put it back up.
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Thomas said his generation can eliminate the flag's negative power by adopting the banner as a symbol of Southern pride: "I've been getting a lot of support from people. My generation is interested in freedom of speech."
But Thomas added that his parents don't like the flag: "I don't want to make my parents mad. I may wait until Monday to put it up."
Thomas said he doesn't like the term "African-American," which makes him feel like "a half-citizen," since he wasn't born in Africa.
Thomas' roommate Blane Reed, who is white, said that he never heard any complaints after Thomas put the flag up shortly after Labor Day.