11 June, 2016
Two flags will be removed from two separate stained glass windows at the Washington National Cathedral, cathedral representatives said recently.
The flags are stained glass reproductions of the flag of the Confederate States of America. They will be replaced with plain glass on windows honoring two Confederate generals: Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and Robert E. Lee.
The Confederacy was a group of 11 southern states. They withdrew from the Union after Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860.
At the time, the southern United States was largely agricultural, and depended on slave labor. Lincoln opposed the expansion of slavery. The federal government rejected the claims of the southern states. The conflict led to the civil war, which lasted from 1861 to 1865.
Today, many Americans say the Confederate flag represents racism, slavery and rebellion. But others see the flag as a sign of the South, one that honors the area's history.
The removal of the stained-glass flags from the Washington National Cathedral is meant to start a discussion on racism and the legacy of slavery, says the Reverend Kelly Brown Douglas. She is a member of the task force that proposed the removal of the flags. The group will consider what to do with the windows in the next two years.
The public display of the Confederate flag has been subject to debates since the June 2015 killing of nine blacks at a church in South Carolina. The white man charged in the attack had his picture taken with a Confederate battle flag before the shootings.
Recently, the states of South Carolina and Alabama stopped displaying and flying the Confederate flag on public grounds. And some businesses have stopped selling the flag at their stores.
I'm Dorothy Gundy.
This story first appeared on VOANews. Jim Dresbach adapted the report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
stained – adj. of or relating to use of special liquid to change the color of something
legacy – n. something that happened in the past or that comes from someone in the past
display – v. to put something where people can see it
institution – n. an established organization