A group of Confederate-flag-waving protesters gathered near the Oklahoma high school where President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak Wednesday afternoon, insisting that what they were doing was about heritage rather than racism.
"We're not gonna stand down from our heritage. You know, this flag's not racist. And I know a lot of people think it is, but it's really not. It's just a southern thing, that's it," Trey Johnson, who drove three hours from Texas to join the protest, told KFOR.
"It is about history. It's not about racism at all because both black men, as well as white men, stood side by side," said another protester, who gave her name as Stephanie. "They fought together for the beliefs that they believed in."
Obama is traveling to Durant High School to give a speech on expanding economic opportunity for communities nationwide, including the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
There has been an increased focus on the Confederate battle flag in recent weeks after the June massacre of nine African-Americans in a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. Dylann Roof, the accused shooter, was a racist who proudly displayed the Confederate flag. Last week, South Carolina removed the Confederate flag from the grounds of its state Capitol.