CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The real meaning and symbolism of the Confederate battle flag wound up being a major topic at Tuesday's Corpus Christi City Council meeting.
The discussion was prompted by complaints about the flag being displayed last week in the Buc Days Illuminated Night Parade, and earlier this year when it was displayed on a t-shirt worn by a Tuloso-Midway High School student.
On Tuesday, people on both sides of the debate showed up at City Hall to voice their opinions.
The question: Should the City treat the Confederate flag as a racist symbol or as what some say is a representation of their heritage?
The conversation stemmed from the American Federation of Teachers President Nancy Vera's request that schools have sensitivity training. Her request was prompted by her discovery of a video showing a Tuloso-Midway High School student wearing a shirt with the Confederate flag on it.
Residents who attended Tuesday's council meeting said the flag has largely been supported by white supremacy groups and those who have committed violent acts against African-American people.
Several residents also said they were upset after seeing the flag on the Sons of Confederate Veterans float during this year's Buc Days parade.
"When we went by the black community, when we went by they are clapping, cheering us, giving us thumbs up. Some even saluted us," said Gary Cornett of Sons of Confederate Veterans. "I don't know why there's a problem with our flag. Like I said, we're not a hate or racist organization. We are a heritage organization honoring our Confederate ancestors."
The organization's president said they have displayed the flag in previous years during the parade and there has never been any issues.
Reverand Adam Carrington said he isn't trying to erase history, but he is asking the City to get rid of a symbol of hate.
"Since there is more than one group that uses the Confederate flag, am I supposed to guess which group doesn't hate me?" Carrington said. "Should I sit back and say nothing, or should I raise my concern to people who can make a difference in promoting unity and not division?"
Cities across the U.S. have been taking down Confederate symbols and flags over the last few years, including right here in Corpus Christi. Just last year, Hamlin Middle School changed their mascot from the Rebels to the Hawks after several complaints.