Despite the recent controversy over the Confederate battle flag in the wake of the racially motivated massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, a new CNN poll indicates that opinion on the flag's meaning hasn't shifted much in the past 15 years, with the majority of Americans still believing it symbolizes Southern pride more than racism.
In 2000, 59 percent of Americans claimed that they viewed the flag as a symbol of Southerners' pride in their heritage. Today, 57 percent of those polled feel the same, although the majority of Americans -- 55 percent -- do believe that the flag should be removed from government property unless it's part of a museum.
Opinion is divided as to whether corporations like Walmart, Amazon and eBay should stop selling the flag, with roughly 50 percent of respondents saying that private companies should or shouldn't have the right to do so. However, those polled were fairly adamant that states should not have to redesign flags that incorporate the battle flag (57 percent), alter public fixtures like highways and waterways featuring the names of Confederate leaders (68 percent), or dismantle memorials to the Confederate dead (71 percent).
Among African-Americans polled, however, support for removing the flags from government property was stronger (73 percent), and the same held true with regards to private companies selling the flag (65 percent) and requiring states to redesign flags that include it in their canton (59 percent).
After race, the biggest single determiner of opinion on the flag was education, with higher degrees of it correlating to less support. Among white Americans with college degrees, only 51 percent said it symbolized Southern pride, while 41 percent answered racism -- whereas among those without a college degree, 71 percent said it represented Southern pride, and only 18 percent answered racism.