Lynyrd Skynyrd: Confederate Flag Is 'Heritage, Not Hate'

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Though many applauded Lynyrd Skynyrd's attempt to distance themselves from the Confederate flag, the decision has angered some fans, who took to the internet to swiftly condemn the news. As a result, the band used its Facebook page to let the world know that it would continue to display the flag at all of its shows.

In a previous interview with CNN, Lynyrd Skynyrd had said they were wary of the flag's association with hate groups. "Through the years, people like the KKK and skinheads kinda kidnapped the Dixie or Southern flag from its tradition and the heritage of the soldiers, that's what it was about," Gary Rossington, the band's guitarist, said. "We didn't want that to go to our fans or show the image like we agreed with any of the race stuff or any of the bad things."

The Confederate or "Dixie" flag has long been controversial. In August, an Oregon school bus driver who was fired for flying the flag on his pickup truck (while on school property) won a ruling allowing him to sue the school district for violating his First Amendment rights. The driver is a self-described "redneck," but maintains that he is not a racist.

The Southern Poverty Law Center keeps track of the hundreds of hate groups who use the flag as a symbol.

In July, the Las Cruces Tea Party drew criticism for flying the flag on a Fourth of July float. The Mayor the New Mexico city apologized for the float, while the Tea Party defended its inclusion by saying the float was intended to celebrate the totality of the state's history.

A similar argument was voiced by a number of the Lynyrd Skynyrd fans taking issue with what they cited as a move away from the band's heritage. Here's the full Lynyrd Skynyrd statement, signed by Rossington:

I wanted to clarify the discussion of the Confederate Flag in our recent CNN interview. Myself, the past and present members (that are from the South), are all extremely proud of our heritage and being from the South. We know what the Dixie flag represents and its heritage; the Civil War was fought over States rights.
We still utilize the Confederate (Rebel) flag on stage every night in our shows, we are and always will be a Southern American Rock band, first and foremost. We also utilize the state flag of Alabama and the American flag, ‘cause at the end of the day, we are all Americans.
I only stated my opinion that the confederate flag, at times, was unfairly being used as a symbol by various hate groups, which is something that we don’t support the flag being used for. The Confederate flag means something more to us, Heritage not Hate…
-Gary Rossington

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