Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Confederate flag may stay aloft

The Sons of Confederate Veterans have raised the Confederate flag that is flying near Interstates 4 and 75 several times this year.


The Sons of Confederate Veterans have raised the Confederate flag that is flying near Interstates 4 and 75 several times this year.

TAMPA — The giant Confederate flag near Interstates 75 and 4 has been flying for nearly two weeks, and this time it is likely to stay aloft, backers say.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans first raised the banner for 20 minutes on April 1, and then again on June 3 and on Flag Day, June 14, on private property where they were building a monument to honor Confederate soldiers. They have put it up and lowered it three times, never flying it for more than a day or so.

The group raised it again Aug. 24 to commemorate the death of an outspoken flag advocate, and it has been up ever since.

"My hunch, my gut feeling, is that it will probably stay up," said Marion Lambert, who spearheaded the memorial park on U.S. 92, just west of Interstate 75.

After a series of choreographed media events and the glare of national exposure, the most recent, ongoing display of the flag occurred with almost no fanfare. But people are noticing just the same.

"My phone has been ringing the last two weeks nonstop," said Michelle Williams, a community activist who opposes the flag. "They want to know why the flag is still flying."

After the flag went up in August, University of South Florida sociologist H. Roy Kaplan asked his 200 students if they had seen it. Three-quarters of them had.

A former head of the National Conference for Community and Justice, Kaplan at one time offered to help negotiate a compromise between opponents and proponents of the Confederate flag monument.

"I was periodically involved," Kaplan said, "but I backed off when I saw that there were other initiatives afoot."

Lambert said other civic groups have approached him since June, trying to broker an agreement. Those efforts stalled after Lambert expressed his reluctance to meet with NAACP officials.

In fact, the flag might have come down by now, had its supporters not been miffed by a failed effort to defend the flag at an NAACP membership meeting.

"They booed me down," said Al Mccray, who resigned his NAACP membership a few days after trying to present the "true meaning of the Confederate flag."

Mccray's treatment angered the Sons of Confederate Veterans, whose members decided to delay plans to lower the flag. The decision to let it remain up came almost by default, Lambert said.

"We just love seeing that flag flying high," he said. "It's exhilarating."

Despite its visibility, the flag might not be quite the lightning rod it was a few months ago, said Curtis Stokes, the president of the Hillsborough County branch of the NAACP.

"When it first went up in June, we were flooded with calls," Stokes said. "But in the last incident we have had three calls."

Nonetheless, Stokes said he hopes to limit the prominence of a symbol many find racially divisive. "If that was a giant flag with a swastika on it, the Jewish community would be offended," he said.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (813) 661-2431 or

Confederate flag may stay aloft 09/03/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 8, 2008 11:46am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Construction starts on USF medical school, the first piece of Tampa's Water Street project


    TAMPA — Dozens of workers in hard hats and boots were busy at work at the corner of South Meridian Avenue and Channelside Drive Wednesday morning, signaling the start of construction on the University of South Florida's new Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute.

    A rendering shows what the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute will look like when completed in 2019. Local officials gathered Wednesday to celebrate as construction begins on the facility, the first piece of the Water Street redevelopment area in downtown Tampa. [Rendering courtesy of the USF Health]
  2. Flooded Withlacoochee River nears crest


    The flooded Withlacoochee River neared its projected crest Wednesday, with expectations that the floodwaters will begin to recede by the weekend.

    LUIS SANTANA   |   Times This aerial drone view shows flooding in the Talisman Estates neighborhood along the Withlacoochee River.
  3. Tampa Electric rules, Duke Energy drools, Hillsborough commissioners declare


    TAMPA — The pile on of Duke Energy continued Wednesday in Hillsborough County, where commissioners boasted how quickly most of their constituents had power after Hurricane Irma.

    Duke Energy workers cut tree limbs off a power line on Sept. 11 following Hurricane Irma.
  4. Whatever USF has to say about Temple waits till Thursday


    "The holes were wide open. Anyone could have run through them."

    South Florida Bulls cornerback Mazzi Wilkins (23) intercepts a pass during the second half of the home opener for the South Florida Bulls against the Stony Brook Seawolves at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  5. 'Rick and Morty' Rickmobile is coming to Tampa next week


    We now have details on when and where Rick and Morty's belching Rickmobile will be when the rolling promo for the cult hit Adult Swim show swings through Tampa on Sept. 27.

    Ricky and Morty fans will head to the Lowry Parcade and Tavern in Tampa on Sept. 27 where a pop-up merch store that will operate out of a Rick Sanchez-shaped truck.