Stanley Bermudez who is currently a professor of art appreciation at Gainesville State College in Georgia has had the above work “removed” from a faculty exhibition due to the consternation of people to the slight done to the Confederate Flag. What this flag entails, to many, are the horrific obstacles, and struggles of the oppressed, to a field of human rights shared by all.
As Bermudez makes the case:
“In school (in Venezuela) we learned about the United States’ Civil War and slavery. I learned to have a negative view of the flag — I basically associated the image of the flag with slavery, racism and the KKK,” said Bermudez. “In 1983, I was a college student in Texas and saw a group of KKK clansmen in their hooded robes, standing on a street corner yelling and waving the (Confederate) flag. My English was limited at the time, so I’m not sure what they were yelling, but I probably wouldn’t want to know. It only happened once in the 12 years that I lived there, but that image stuck with me…
“This is very much what I feel and think about when I see that flag. It’s just my personal feelings about it. It’s an accumulation of the things I’ve seen, studied and read over the years,” Bermudez said. “When visiting the KKK website, the (Confederate) flag is used often. Recently, the KKK has had public meetings near (my home), which scares me because of their anti-Latino immigration sentiments.”
Although the finished piece is how Bermudez sees the flag, not everyone agrees with his views. Public response to the piece was so strong that Gainesville State’s administration asked that the picture be removed from the faculty showing in the Roy C. Moore Art Gallery on the college’s Oakwood campus, Bermudez says. “I wasn’t expecting that kind of feedback. I’ve been an artist for 25 years. I’ve always known that artwork can be powerful, but I never dreamed it would be this powerful to the point that I would be censored.”
Instead of a painting, his artist’s statement explaining what inspired the absent piece is now hanging in the gallery. The college declined to share with The Times any of the feedback that prompted the removal of the painting; however, at least one “Southern heritage” website described the painting as “despicable” and prompted visitors to contact Martha Nesbitt, the college’s president, about the picture. Site administrators even posted her e-mail address and telephone number.
“Even though I don’t agree with the decision to take it down, I do respect it,” Bermudez said. “I know if I was in that kind of position, I’d have a difficult time making a decision, because it’s a hard one to make.”
What was the south fighting for under this flag? From their Georgia and Mississippi’s succession statements,
“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.”
“The prohibition of slavery in the Territories, hostility to it everywhere, the equality of the black and white races, disregard of all constitutional guarantees in its favor, were boldly proclaimed by its leaders and applauded by its followers.
With these principles on their banners and these utterances on their lips the majority of the people of the North demand that we shall receive them as our rulers.
The prohibition of slavery in the Territories is the cardinal principle of this organization.”
A Selection from; the Sucession of Georgia, 1861