The Confederate flag has received nationwide attention after a gunman killed nine African-Americans last month during bible study at a historic Charleston church, because a photograph of the confessed killer, Dylan Roof, emerged showing him embracing the flag.
Once the image went viral, the flag debate quickly became a political issue — with some politicians abstaining from taking a position on the controversial issue while others are voicing their concerns.
The flag has since been removed from numerous places and has supporters rallying in its defense on a nationwide level.
Local supporters came together on Saturday for what was called the “Confederate Flag Run of Tazewell, Tennessee.”
James Partin, of Tazewell, Tennessee, was one of the organizers of the event.
Partin says the group was inspired to organize the event after hearing all of the negative talk about the flag and it being categorized into just one category when to them it means more.
“Yes, it (the flag) was during slavery but that is not what we see the flag and we were just there to support our beliefs and stand up for what we believe in,” said Partin.
Organizers got word of the rally out via Facebook. They have a page — Confederate Flag Run of Tazewell, Tn!, and friends and supporters joined and shared the page to spread the word.
Fifty-three vehicles from Kentucky, Tennessee and one from South Carolina (approximately one-hundred and sixty people) showed up to participate. The group started at Ingles in New Tazewell — stopped at the Middlesboro High School and Big Lots parking lots — then traveled through Pigeon Forge before ending at the Bass Pro Shop in Sevierville, Tennessee.
The group barbecued hot dogs during the event and are sending the proceeds to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Partin says the group only had trouble once they reached Pigeon Forge and encountered another group that was conducting their own rally.
Despite the trouble in Pigeon Forge, Partin says he feels the rally was a success.
“We had a lot of people notice us and compliment us on what we’re doing. Everyone enjoyed themselves and had a good time,” said Partin.
No future rallies are scheduled at this time, but Partin says the group will be putting one together soon, and the information will be posted on the groups Facebook page.
Reach Reina P. Cunningham at 606-302-9091 or on Twitter @ReinaDailyNews.