We are now very much in the throes of an effort to shake free our hold on the Confederate flag from many of places it once called home. Across many southern states, calls can be heard to remove the flag from public buildings and private institutions are joining suit.

South Carolina will consider removing the Confederate flag from its capitol. Mississippi will vote to change its state flag so that it no longer contains the flag. Amazon is rumored to ban the sale of Confederate flag memorabilia; Walmart, Sears, and eBay will also ban the sale.

This will undoubtedly anger many conservatives who try to to justify their proud display of the Confederate flag under the tired trope of “heritage, not hate.” A dubious claim that ignores the true origins of the Confederate movement.

And we need not look far to find evidence that the origins of the southern heritage that upholds the Confederate flag are steeped deeply in the oppression of black Americans.

We need only look to the words of the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander H. Stephens:

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

Stephens was not alone in this view. He was expressing a theme of great popularity in the south at the time. Admittedly, some did not endorse such hatred of black Americans, but their efforts can not be used to excuse the greater injustice that was committed.

The Confederate flag, without reservation, represents the oppression and degradation of black Americans. The founders of the very Confederacy itself intended it to be that way.