History of the Confederate flag on Alabama Capitol grounds

Published: Jun. 22, 2015 at 8:53 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 22, 2015 at 9:26 PM CDT
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(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced Monday she is in favor of removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House grounds.

Her announcement comes after nine African-Americans were killed at a Charleston, SC church in what's believed to be a racially charged shooting.

Although Haley's call to remove the flag comes as a strong call to action, the flag cannot be removed immediately. According to the South Carolina Heritage Act, the flag may not be removed from the capitol grounds without a two-thirds vote from each chamber of the State House.

The Confederate flag is placed near a Confederate Soldier Monument on the South Carolina State House grounds in Columbia, SC.

Alabama also has a Confederate monument on its Capitol grounds where four Confederate flags currently fly. Three of the flags are the different national Confederate flags. The fourth flag is the Confederate battle flag. The flags have been there since the battle flag was removed from the Alabama state capitol in 1993 following a lawsuit ruling.

Following Haley's announcement Monday, we reached out to Gov. Robert Bentley's office by email for a comment on these development but haven't received a response.


Here's a timeline of the history of Confederate flags on the Alabama Capitol grounds:

Feb. 15, 1915: According to the Alabama Department of Archives and History, the "Stars and Bars" flag was raised over the Alabama Capitol by Confederate veterans and descendants in a silent film re-enactment of the formation of the Confederacy.

1918: Many photographs of the Capitol in the first half of the 20th century show no flag flying over the dome, but in the late 1930s the U.S. flag was flown over the Capitol at least some of the time when the legislature wasn't in session.

March 4, 1961: The "Stars and Bars" flag was raised over the Capitol during a ceremony sponsored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy as part of the Civil War Centennial. The flag was raised during the ceremony and removed at the end of the celebration.

April 25, 1963: The Confederate Naval Jack flag was raised over the Capitol on the day when Attorney General Robert Kennedy met Gov. George Wallace inside the Capitol. It wasn't removed after this visit.

During this time, the American flag was flown from a flag pole on the south lawn. The Alabama flag and Confederate Naval Jack were on the dome.

1975: Alvin Holmes filed suit to require the American flag be flown from the highest position. A federal district court said the Flag Code suggests, but does not require, the American flag to be flown from the highest position.

Wallace made the decision to fly the U.S. flag from the highest point. The Alabama flag was below it followed by the Confederate Naval Jack.

1976: Alvin Holmes filed a suit against Wallace and others to prohibit the flying of the Confederate flag over the Capitol. The federal district court ruled against Holmes.

1988: The NAACP, Alvin Holmes and others filed a lawsuit against Gov. Guy Hunt seeking to remove the Confederate battle flag from the State Capitol grounds. The district court again ruled against Holmes.

Late 1980s-Early 1990s: The Alabama Capitol was flying the U.S., Alabama and Confederate battle flags. All three were taken down due to a massive renovation of the capitol in the early 1990s.

Alvin Holmes and other legislators filed a third lawsuit using a different argument than the first two (1976 and 1988). They argued that an Alabama law from 1975 doesn't allow for the flying of any flag above the Capitol other than the U.S. and Alabama flags.

Jan. 4, 1993: Circuit Judge William Gordon rules in favor of Alvin Holmes. Judge ordered Alabama law allows only the state and national flag be flown over Alabama's capitol and enjoined the governor from raising the Confederate, or any other flag.

Gov. Folsom didn't appeal the judge's ruling.

Late 1990s-Early 2000s: Gov. Don Siegelman made a provision that when the state restored the Confederate Memorial Monument it would be appropriate to fly Confederate flags for historical display. Four flags of the confederacy were raised on the north grounds of the Capitol. Three of the flags are the national flags of the Confederacy and the final flag is the Confederate battle flag, according to Ed Bridges with the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

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