Yet another factor was the poverty diets so many Southerners subsisted on, and how they affected lives individually and the region as a whole. Poverty diets resulted in nutritional deficiency diseases, such as pellagra, caused by diets of cornbread and fatback. Other factors of poverty on the lives of post-war Southerners include the "lazy Southerner" -- a comical stereotype outsiders

love to make fun of, but it wasn't laziness. It was catastrophic iron deficiency anemia resulting from hookworm infection, which result from going barefoot in places where the worms were found. Shoes were a luxury for several generations of post-war Southerners.

While Southerners were dying in epidemics of nutritional deficiency, industrialists in the north were building gilt-walled, 100-room "cottages" in Newport. (Christine Barr of the Paris Post Intelligencer.)

The major reason for the delay in building the monuments was that it simply took that long to save pennies and nickels and dimes to pay for them, because there was so much else that required money first -- starting with simple survival -- and there was basically no money to be had, anyway. Yes, it took that long for an economically oppressed people to accumulate the funds to finance the monuments. (One deliberate oppressor of post-war industrial growth in the south, discriminatory freight rates, did not end until 1953.)

There is no denying that racial conflict existed in the South, but that has always been and still is an American, not an exclusively Southern, phenomenon. Jim Crow wasn't just a Southern response. In the north it was called Black Codes. Most sundown towns were not located in the South.

In the USA, the racial conflict that exists today does not date back to slavery but to the war and reconstruction. If slavery itself was the cause, the same racial conflict would exist in other countries of the new world where race-based slavery existed. Reconstruction was the setting for operations of the "Carpetbaggers' KKK" -- the "union leagues" -- which preyed upon white Southerners and pitted black and white against each other. But the fact that similar outrages against blacks outside the South, where so few of them resided, prove that if the black population had been more evenly distributed, so would have incidents of racial conflict. Even today, the South remains the only real black/white biracial region of the USA.

Today, it is commonly claimed that the display of the Confederate flag was adopted in the 50s and 60s by hate groups resisting civil rights, and that is the only thing that gives it meaning. This claim deliberately ignores that the revival of the Confederate flag in that era is far more attributable to the centennial of the civil war, 1960 - 1965. It ignores the popularity of the flag (and other artifacts of the Confederacy) as symbols of regional pride that were incorporated into company logos (Dixie Cola, Dixie Gas and Oil), displayed in parades, athletic events from water skiiing to NASCAR. As one who lived through that time, I know these positive displays far outweighed the negative ones.

People who claim that hate group usage defines the flag never even attempt to quantify this usage. I suspect no study will be undertaken to determine the extent of hate group usage of the Confederate flag anymore than a study will be undertaken to determine the extent of hate group use of the US flag.

The bottom line is that Confederate memorials are not monuments to white supremacy, and they need no context added in 2017. The inscriptions on the monuments themselves are all the context that's necessary.

by Connie Chastain