During his speech in Kenya, President Obama referred to the Confederate Flag in the United States as an example of a “bad tradition” that needed to be changed.
“Just because something is a tradition doesn’t make it right,” he explained, telling the story of the recent public debate over the flag in South Carolina.
“This was a symbol for those states who fought against the Union to preserve slavery,” Obama explained to the rapt Kenyan audience, noting although the Confederate flag was an “historical artifact” it shouldn’t be a “symbol of heritage” in public places.
Obama asserted that the Confederate flag was primarily a symbol of racism.
“The fact is it was a flag that flew over an army that fought to maintain a system of slavery and racial subjugation,” he said. “So we should understand our history, but we should also recognize that it sends a bad message to those who were liberated from slavery and oppression.”
He explained that part of the reason the flag was removed from the South Carolina capitol was because “a fan” of the Confederate flag shot several African-Americans at a black church.
As a result of the shooting, Obama explained, “more and more Americans of all races are realizing now that that flag should come down.”
“Every country and every culture has traditions that are unique and help make that country what it is,” he explained. “But just because something is a part of your past doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t mean that it defines your future.”