Memorandum for the governor

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Montgomery, Alabama

Office of the Legislative Analyst

June 21, 1988

FROM: [NAME WITHHELD], Legislative Analyst
SUBJECT: Flying of Confederate Flag over Capital Building
ISSUE: Presentation of analysis for your decision:
BACKGROUND: The office of the Governor has received several demands by members representing the state’s chapter of the NAACP to remove the Confederate flag (“flag”). Earlier this year 13 African-American legislators were arrested for trespassing and as they attempted to remove the flag for the capital. The issue at this time is to examine the merits of taking action to either remove the flag or to continue the current practice.
ISSUES: The flag was raised over the state capital in early 1960 by then Governor Gorge Wallace and remains today. When Governor Wallace raised the flag he made publicly clear this was his response to pressure by the U. S. Attorney General (Kennedy) in regards to the civil rights movement. In the 1970’s a legislator (Alvin Holmes) opined that it was inappropriate to fly the flag above the American flag. It was only after public and media attention subsided, that Wallace discretely changed this practice, citing an explanation that was not connected to media or public pressure.
STAKEHOLDERS: While the flying of the flag poses no physical threat or danger to the citizens of Alabama, the banner itself hold distinctive emotional connotations for different groups of stakeholders. These stakeholder include both internal, (state groups and constituents) and external, (tourism, media and federal government).
Opponents include African-American constituents and advocate groups who view the flag as a socially disuniting symbol, which represent the portion of the Confederate history that included the practice of slavery. Proponents include party conservatives with a high voting record who view the flag as a part of historical struggle that included the deaths of many ancestors. Other third party stakeholders include the state’s many businesses and economic leaders who feel that commerce and tourism suffer from a stereotypical image of the southern states.

VALUES: Several issues are identified as requiring action on this issue. First, the opponents have made it publicly clear that they will continue to form coalitions and seek remedy. This would indicate pending litigation. Second the perpetuation by the public (local and national) of the southern states as that of the pre-civil rights era. Third the economic concerns of the state’s business community, which affects the state economy as a whole. Finally there is the need to respect the fundamental values of your conservative constituency.
RECOMMENDATIONS: The Legislative Office has analyzed arguments by all groups and examined legal aspects and political concerns. As a result our office has formulated recommendations to resolve the issue in a manner that best serves the interests of parties involved in the controversy. These recommendations are as follows:

  1. Removal of the Confederate flag from the capital building and all state offices.

    1. Executive Order- as is under the jurisdiction of the executive office

    2. The Governor has indicated his desire not to disenfranchise conservative voters. In following the example of Governor Wallace; dictating that these actions are part of modernization efforts, not related to public pressure.

  2. Recognition of the historical value of the flag to a certain portion of Alabama citizenry.

    1. Meeting with conservative constituents to clarify the flag is not being eliminated, as it is, and always will be a part of Alabama history. The flag will be publicly displayed, however, in a historical context.

  3. Respectful placement of it in a location that is mainly ‘historical’ in value, but not insensitive to those whose ancestry endured unfavorable experiences.

    1. State Historical Museum

  4. Meeting with state and local chamber of commerce representatives to initiate a public campaign foster a progressive and modern image of Alabama business and industry.

    1. Utilizing photos of the capital building with the U.S. and State flags displayed.

These recommendations pose no clear ‘victory’ to groups on either side of the issue, however, it relegates the display of the flag to an administrative issue. The values of opponents, having the flag removed from the state capital due to its historical relation to an era that included the practice of slavery, will be met. In addition, the values of proponents, that the flag represents those who fought and died during the civil war, will be assured of the historical preservation of the flag itself. Thereby, the national and commercial views of the state can be seen as a more welcoming and progressive one, wherein, business and industries can seek market opportunities, which will be beneficial to those on all sides of this issue.


_____ Recommendation #1 - Authorize drafting and submittal of Executive Order to remove confederate flag from capital and all state buildings

_____ Recommendation # 2 and #3 - Creation of coordinating group to pursue the designation of historical relocation of the confederate flag

_____ Recommendation # 4 - Schedule meeting with Chamber of Commerce leaders to discuss public relations campaigns and replace graphical representations of capital building.

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