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The Confederate flag and business

June 25, 2015

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Photo via Flickr user Jason Lander.

In the days following the racially charged killing of nine people in Charleston, South Carolina, a debate over the appropriateness of flying the Confederate flag reemerged across the country.

Some see the flag as a hateful symbol with a racist past, while others continue to claim it honors the heritage of the South. The debate has been especially prevalent in southern states, where some still fly variations of Confederate flags on public grounds.

More flag related political actions are coming. Earlier this week, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for its removal on her state Capitol grounds, while Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley on Wednesday ordered four Confederate flags to be taken down in Montgomery.

Mississippi, which features the stars and bars design on its state flag, also faces calls for the symbol to be retired.

The conversation has crossed over into the business world, where retailers have sold the flag and its design on merchandise for years. Now, companies are removing the flag from their inventories.

CNN reports that Walmart, Amazon, eBay and Sears have banned the sale of flag merchandise because of the growing controversy. Walmart.com sold the flag along with t-shirts and belt buckles that included its design. Amazon sold a number of different products, including the flag itself, t-shirts and blankets.

Despite changing attitudes and support for the flag’s removal, the controversy might have boosted sales of the merchandise.

At Amazon, sales of three different versions of the flags increased 1,670 percent to 2,305 percent in a 24-hour period and one of the flags was the top-selling outdoor flag or banner on its website, CNN reports.

Others distanced their companies and brands from the symbol. Warner Bros. announced it will no longer sanction the manufacturing of any product that displays the flag, including toy cars and models of the General Lee, the car from the classic TV show “The Dukes of Hazzard” that featured the flag on its roof, according to Vulture.

ESPN reports that NASCAR released a statement supporting the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse grounds on Tuesday, though it said it would not ban fans from flying the flag at events. NASCAR already had a ban against the flag’s use in any official capacity within the organization and supports a program where it gives out driver flags in exchange for the flag.

Tragedies like the killings in Charleston reverberate across the country and often have different monetary aspects.

For story ideas, find out if businesses in your area are still selling the flag. Has anyone come to its defense? You can also see if churches or charities are raising money for the victims of the Charleston shootings.


  • Rian Bosse

    Rian Bosse is a PhD student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. He earned his undergraduate degree in English from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2012 and worked for a small daily newspaper, the Daily Journal, in his hometown o...

    View all posts

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