John Sims, an artist from Sarasota, Florida, is honoring the constitutional right of self-expression by staging burnings and burials of the Rebel flag, that troublesome symbol of the Old South that many, particularly African-Americans, associate with slavery, white supremacy and state-sponsored terrorism and lynchings.
“We are in America, and people have the right to fly whatever flag [they want],” Sims said. “And I have the right to bury whatever flag, and to burn whatever flag.”
Sims noted that the Dixie flag, which the South flew during the Civil War, is associated with many toxic memories of the American experience, especially from the black perspective. “There’s a notion of ‘Southern Heritage’ and who owns [that], but a very important part of Southern culture is the African-American experience.… The Confederate flag is a flag of terror from its use by the Klan in the ’20s to the anti-civil-rights movement in the ’50s and ’60s,” Sims said.