In Georgia, the state Department of Revenue’s Motor Vehicle Division approved of a new specialty license plate design that features the Confederate battle flag. Under state law, all license plate proposals are submitted to the Motor Vehicle division to screen out insensitive or offensive license plate designs.
This new plate design replaces an older Confederate battle flag template that began circulation in the early 2000s. But the new design, proposed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, features a more prominent Confederate battle flag across the background, the emblem of the SOCV on the left side, and a dedication to the organization in a banner across the lower-center of the plate. While the Department of Revenue has defended the new plate by saying the appearance of the flag is not new, the re-issuance of a symbol associated with racism in an even larger and more prominent manner has raised the ire of many. Maynard Eaton, spokesman for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, called the display “reprehensible” and added “we don’t have license plates saying ‘Black Power’.” Georgia’s Governor, Nathan Deal (R) also commented, telling the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he had “no information in advance about it.”
This is not the first instance in the State of Georgia over the Confederate battle flag. From 1956 to 2001, the Georgia state flag prominently displayed the battle flag of the Confederacy until it was removed in favor of the Georgia state seal on a blue background with the former and current flags of the United States and Georgia displayed in a banner in the lower middle. In 2003, the current “stars and bars” design was adopted in order to remove the Confederate battle flag entirely and prevent any association with or endorsement of white supremacy. At the same time Georgia removed any chance of that conclusion from the state flag it began circulation of the Confederate battle flag license plates.