Drive-By Truckers frontman Patterson Hood did the South proud today. Hood penned an op-ed for The New York Times about the Confederate Flag, a racist symbol of Southern insurrection during the Civil War that has stubbornly persisted as a regional emblem in that part of the country. Last month, Dylann Roof shot nine innocent people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and a renewed urgency to remove the flag — especially from federal buildings — has surged. Today, South Carolina’s state house voted to remove the flag from the grounds of the State Capitol. Hood’s letter fully supports that move.
In his piece, Hood touches on the way music brought both races together where he grew up in Florence, Alabama. Hood writes about how he grew up with a father who played with Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and Aretha and the Staple Singers, and how Southern stereotypes like Bull Connor mortified his father and their family. He also writes about the tension between celebrating the South’s rich cultural legacy while living with the region’s racist past. He fearlessly touches on what the flag stands for, and why his band has all but stopped playing a song called “The Southern Thing” because they noticed fans interpreting the song as supportive of the Confederate flag. His piece is a love letter to the South, but also a rallying cry. Read the whole piece here.