Hours after the flag was removed Friday from the South Carolina Capitol grounds, Burrell summed up what it always has represented to him.
“Anti-black. Pro-slavery. White superiority,” said Burrell, a 35-year Vernon resident and the last Democratic freeholder elected in Republican-dominated Sussex County.
Sightings of the Confederate flag are unusual, but not unheard of, in a county where under 2 percent of residents are black. Burrell said he understands that some who display the flag may not intend any ill will.
Still, encountering it always makes him uncomfortable.
“There’s a person who flies the Confederate flag, down the road from me. I keep wondering, what kind of people live there,” Burrell said.
While acknowledging that “they might be very, very nice people,” Burrell said, “If I had an accident, that would be the last home I went to.”
Despite South Carolina’s dramatic retreat on the flag, stemming from the racially motivated murders of nine black men and women at a Charleston church June 17, some continue to view the flag as a harmless nod to heritage. A prominent example would appear to be singer Kid Rock, who has used the flag on stage and told off protesters last week.
To many others, Burrell included, that heritage is intertwined with oppression and is nothing to honor. He is old enough to have experienced a time when white opponents of integration adopted the Confederate flag as a taunting, threatening symbol of resistance.