Is Tennessee the most racist state in the United States?

By Sinclere Lee

Is Tennessee the most racist state in the United States? If it’s not the most racist, it’s damn close! Don’t forget it's where Martin Luther King was murdered in 1968, and it’s the home of the Ku Klux Klan, founded in Pulaski Tennessee. In cites like Chattanooga, the police department routinely abuse poor helpless Blacks; Blacks who are already having a hard time under the racist oppression of the state.

Now, they are fighting to keep the Confederate flag in schools, knowing the racial hatred it engenders. They love to keep the hatred going in the old south, and Tennessee is the worse of the lot.

The Confederate States of America used several flags during its existence from 1861 to 1865. Since the end of the American Civil War, personal and official use of Confederate flags has continued under some controversy. The state flags of Mississippi and Georgia draw heavily upon Confederate flag designs, and those of Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, and Tennessee arguably incorporate certain elements from these designs.

Now, a federal appeals court panel ruled Wednesday in favor of a Tennessee school system that banned the Confederate battle flag because of concerns the symbol could inflame racial tensions at a high school.

Students Derek Barr, Chris White, Roger Craig White and their parents, who still think the flag is a good thing, stated in a lawsuit that their free speech rights were violated by the 2005 flag ban at William Blount High School in Maryville, about 15 miles south of Knoxville.

School officials said the ban came after previous race-related incidents that included a racial slur, a fight, a civil rights complaint, a lockdown and graffiti depicting a Confederate flag and a noose. In Chattanooga last week Blacks accused Blue Cross of incidents of racism on a construction site where nooses were found to intimidated Black workers.

After a number of Black workers got sick on the job, some Blacks on the work site in Chattanooga claimed white workers tried to poison the water they were drinking. City and state officials have covered up the source of the sickness. Many in the Black community think that on going racism in Chattanooga, and the city's racial hatred against its Black citizens are behind the problem.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals pointed to those incidents in ruling that school officials had a right to ban the flag because they could "reasonably forecast" that it would cause disruption.

"The school did not merely find the Confederate flag offensive to some students but rather found that in a context of high racial tensions, race-related altercations, and threats of violence, the flag would disrupt the school's educational process," said the opinion that was filed in Cincinnati.

It cited previous U.S. Supreme Court rulings that allow schools to limit student speech in order to prevent disruptions to education and upheld a lower federal court's dismissal of the lawsuit in 2007.

Some considers the Confederate flag a symbol of racism and intolerance, while others consider it an emblem of their Southern heritage. That’s the old racist line they always use to keep the hating going, particularly in Chattanooga.

The students and their racist parents argued that there was no evidence the flag caused any disruption. The school is mostly white but about 3 percent of its 1,800 students are black, said Principal Steve Lafon.

"We have all along felt it was in the best interest of our school environment to not allow any symbols ... that might be racially divisive in any way," said Lafon, who was a defendant in the lawsuit with the director of schools and the school board.

Van Irion, a Knoxville attorney who represented the students, called the ruling "appalling" and said he planned to appeal it to the Supreme Court.

"It's very clear this panel doesn't like the Confederate flag," Irion said. "That was their starting point in coming to the decision they did. The subject matter of the ban is not supposed to be relevant at all in a First Amendment analysis."

The lawsuit is the latest in a string of similar free-speech claims from Texas to South Carolina since the 1990s.

Last week, an East Tennessee teenager's free-speech lawsuit against a school dress code that banned Confederate flag clothing ended in a mistrial when a federal jury failed to reach a verdict. That lawsuit also centers on whether schools can ban the flag if it causes no substantial disruption.

In the case brought by Tommy DeFoe, 18, school officials in Clinton, Tenn. said they worried that displaying the flag would lead to racial tensions and violence at Anderson County High, which has had problems before, and at nearby Clinton High School.
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