Two female students protested a ban on Confederate flag-themed clothing at Plum High School in Pennsylvania on Dec. 12 (video below).
"I’m fighting for my rights because it's in our First Amendment that they can’t take our rights away," freshman Kelsey Evans told KDKA. "I’m fighting for what I believe in because so many people think it’s racist, but it’s not."
Pennsylvania was part of the Union army that fought against the Confederacy, which waved the flag in its fight for slavery during the Civil War. The Confederate flag was also flown by racists who opposed desegregation and civil rights for black people during the Jim Crow era.
Dr. Troy Lyons, an African-American parent, supported the school district's ban: "This is more than a statement of I can’t wear what I want to wear. When you wear something that is racially insensitive, it’s not appropriate. The Confederate flag represents slavery and oppression in the South and we are not going to stand for that."
After a few hours, the principal told the student protesters to leave or face arrest.
The clothing was banned earlier in December after an African-American student felt threatened because another student wore a hoodie with a Confederate flag design.
School Superintendent Timothy Glasspool said on Dec. 9: "Today, three students arrived at Plum High School wearing Confederate Flag clothing and/or accouterments. This attire is beginning to cause a disruption to the normal school routine."
"I've spoken to at least one parent who is considering transferring his kid out of the school district because he doesn't feel like his child is safe," Robert Williams, a parent, told WTAE.
Student Noah Leech said he refused to remove his Confederate flag hoodie: "Our bloodline comes from West Virginia. They were helping move slaves from the South into the North under the Confederate flag so that's what I stand for."
Leech plans to wear his hoodie, despite the school rules: "I'm sorry that I've ever offended anyone about it, but I'm going to continue to wear my hoodie and support what I support."
Historian Ken Burns told CBS News in 2015 that South Carolina’s Articles of Secession, the birthplace of secession, prove the Civil War was over slavery:
They do not mention states' rights. They mention slavery, slavery, slavery. And that we have to remember. It is much more complicated than that, but essentially the reason why we murdered each other, more than 2 percent of our population, 750,000 Americans died; that’s more than all the wars from the Revolution through Afghanistan combined, was over essentially the issue of slavery.