Even on Wednesday – before the campgrounds filled with thousands of race fans for this weekend’s NASCAR action – the flag could be seen flying, flapping in the wind outside motorhomes and prominently displayed by nearby vendors who also stocked plenty of Confederate-themed merchandise.
While the flag continues to stir controversy as a symbol of hatred, AL.com talked to race fans flying the flag, and virtually all of them said they don’t consider it a symbol of hatred or racial divisiveness.
“Southern heritage,” replied Robert Ogletree, from Shreveport, La., when asked why he’s flying a Confederate battle flag. “It’s a part of our history. Our history is the Civil War. End of story.”
Mark Smith, Ogletree’s friend from New Jersey, said he planted the Confederate battle flags as the campsite and said he flies them to honor Southern friends, whom he considers family. He insisted flying the flags is not intended as a hateful gesture.
“I don’t hate nobody,” Smith said.
The Confederate battle flag has been used by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups.
Flag supporters – including many in the Talladega campgrounds – say it represents the South’s heritage and culture and serves as a memorial to Civil War soldiers who died in battle.