Colorado Controversy Raises Questions Over the Meaning of the Gadsden Flag [Updated]

The historic Gadsden flag is at the heart of a controversy involving a twelve-year-old boy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The child was removed from the school due to a patch on his backpack featuring the flag. The school district defended the action and claimed that, despite its historical symbolism, it is now considered racist and connected to slavery. Not only is the flag a historical image originally unconnected to slavery, but the action (in my view) contravenes core free speech protections.

The flag was designed by Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina in 1775 as a symbol of the defiance of colonists to British rule. (Some trace the origins of the flag earlier to a design by Benjamin Franklin). Featuring a timber snake, it affirmed the view of the colonists that they would not be stepped on by overbearing British officials and troops.

While Gadsden would become a brigadier general in the Continental Army, he gave the flag to Commodore Esek Hopkins who later adopted it as his flag as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Navy.  For the revolutionaries, it embodied the essence of the war: they were the victims of the British overstepping their authority and treading upon the rights of the colonies.

The historic image is still cherished by many, including those who see it as a symbol of defiance of individual citizens to overreaching government action.

That was the view at The Vanguard School in Colorado Springs. A video on the social media platform X, shows the 12-year-old elementary school student being removed from class.

A staff member explained that the image is now deemed “disruptive to the classroom environment” and that it has “origins with slavery.” The boy’s parent is told that the child must remove the patch before he can return to school.

The staffer tells the parent to speak with Jeff Yocum, the director of operations at the school.

Yocum reportedly cited research by a graphic design professor at Iowa State University Paul Bruski, who declared the flag as now a symbol of hate:  “Because of its creator’s history and because it is commonly flown alongside ‘Trump 2020’ flags, the Confederate battle flag and other white-supremacist flags, some may now see the Gadsden flag as a symbol of intolerance and hate – or even racism.”

Yocum also reportedly cited a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruling involving a Postal worker, which found that while the flag “originated in the Revolutionary War in a non-racial context,” despite its “historic origins and meaning of the symbol, it also has since been sometimes interpreted to convey racially-tinged messages.”

We previously discussed how the EEOC reinstated a case in 2016 of an employee objecting to another employee wearing a cap with the symbol.

Clearly, symbols can have different meanings for different people. I disagree with Professor Bruski, but respect his right to raise such objections. The question is whether others respect the right of those with opposing views, including viewing this flag as an important and inspiring symbol of the American Revolution.

The censorship of the image strikes me as a clear denial of free speech rights for this student. I obviously do not agree with the historical interpretation, but I am far more concerned about the constitutional interpretation of the school district allowing such censorship of images.

It is an ironic moment for a flag that symbolized the resistance to overbearing government actions and the denial of core rights in the American Revolution.


Today the school district reversed its decision and will now allow the student and the flag back into the school:

From Vanguard’s founding we have proudly supported our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the ordered liberty that all Americans have enjoyed for almost 250 years. The Vanguard School recognizes the historical significance of the Gadsden flag and its place in history. This incident is an occasion for us to reaffirm our deep commitment to a classical education in support of these American principles.

At this time, the Vanguard School Board and the District have informed the student’s family that he may attend school with the Gadsden flag patch visible on his backpack.

133 thoughts on “Colorado Controversy Raises Questions Over the Meaning of the Gadsden Flag [Updated]”

  1. England sent to the colonies its orphaned children, veterans from the seven year war, criminals, Irish so called indentured servants with all a promise to freedom, only to find out differently once they arrived. The indentured peoples had centuries of servitude back in England. Maybe it’s no coincidence that colonies after the revolutionary war passed anti-slavery laws long before 1861.

  2. “News” emanating from WaPo, etc., etc., etc., is akin to the propaganda, and outright lies, spewing from the mouth of liars – oh! KJP is top of mind – from the Biden regime. Watching the mainstream media treat the regime as if everything they are doing is at odds with everything that was normal yesterday.

  3. An excellent interview of Newt Gingrich in the first portion of the interview with excellent insights on Trump along with a discussion of Obama, H.Clinton and Biden. “there’s an entire system of corruption, lawlessness, and weaponization that is far beyond Joe Biden.”__NG

  4. Jonathan:

    I may very well post this in every single column for a few days. I hope you will oblige. But I fear your readership deserves to know.

    I have been coming on this blog for some time now, and consitently copying and pasting the copyrighted intellectual property of others, pretty much word for word, without giving any credit to the source. I have presented these thoughts as if they were my own, including quotes from third parties who did not speak to me directly. Since I am a paid troll, obviously I am infringing on copyright law, aside from the immorality of it.

    Furthermore, I stole most of these writings from sources that most here would consider, well lets just say unreliable. To use the correct word would violate the terms of service that I love to crow about. I wouldn’t want to disrupt the intellectual discourse that I claim to want to preserve, but never engage in. Instead, I just drop in, call some people racists without basis or explanation, and waltz out like I am not in violation of the civility rules myself.

    The self righteous virtue signaling I do is the only original thought I have posted here in months. EVERYTHING else is someone else’s.

    I offer my sincere apologies for my keyboard diarrhea, lifted from Vox, Salon, Media-ite, Huff Post, and Teen Vogue. But, you can probably count on more of the same in the future. I will just have to change a few more words, so that pain-in-the-a$$ Tom guy can’t find it in 30 seconds.

    PS….I could adopt the posture of Joe Biden, and have my poor press secratary (yes, I have one, who do you thinks finds all this stuuf for me?) or Gigi, come out and lie for me in the face of insurmountable evidence, but it seems Tom has me dead to rights.

    Thanks for your time and now for the important stuff:

    There’s a red under my bed
    And there’s a little ORANGE man in my head
    And he said, “You’re not going crazy, you’re just a bit sad
    ‘Cause there’s a man in ya, gnawing ya, tearing ya into two”

  5. The Gadsden was not a flag when created. It was a Jack as in Union jack. It was a pennant for a ship. Usually displayed on the stern of a ship. The message was don’t mess with a rattle snake else you will get bit.

  6. OT

    US Navy Veteran, married gay male, Scott Harris, savagely beaten while walking his dog in Philly. States Philly is more dangerous than his tours of duty in Iraq. His partner states nothing will get done about the violent incident because of Soros funded DA Larry Krasner

    No coverage by the MSM though because a white gay man who becomes a statistic of violent crime in yet another Democrat run city goes against DNC talking points. Thankfully Americans have other news sources than the DNC / MSM apparatchik

    Navy veteran Scott Harris, 62, horrifically-beaten in crime-ridden Philadelphia says the city under DA Larry Krasner feels far less safe than his tours in Ukraine and IRAQ

    1. Yes.
      I felt safer in Afghanistan than I did in some Blue cities.
      Might of had to do with something about nearly everyone carrying some kind of firearm, mostly rifles.

  7. The letter ‘A’ has been associated with and used in racist and hateful writings in the past. Therefore, the letter ‘A’ in all its forms should be banned because it causes some to feel harmed, threatened, etc. The letter ‘B’ has been associated with …

  8. Prigozhin: Give me a light!

    Handed a bomb. Bomb explodes. Flaming wreckage falls from the sky.

    With soot on face, also Prigozhin: I meant Bud Light!

  9. It’s not about the Flag, IT”S ABOUT THE KID THEY RAPPED. FIRE ALL OF THE SCHOOL”S ADMINISTRATORS, maybe that will be an ‘Incident’ THEY can remember for the remainder of their Life.

    Kid – RUN! The Adults surrounding you DON”T KNOW WHAT THE HELL THEY ARE DOING.
    (and probably never will, because They’re so full of themselves. That (They) will never change)
    Run Kid Run

    1. Never … ever … some that the adults don’t know what they’re doing. The events of the past 15 years should be proof enough of the intentions of TPTB to condemn and ridicule and, when necessary, to get rid of any and all who don’t agree with their agenda — as Nancy Lugosi says, ‘By any means necessary.’

  10. “Because of its creator’s history and because it is commonly flown alongside ‘Trump 2020’ flags, the Confederate battle flag and other white-supremacist flags, some may now see the Gadsden flag as a symbol of intolerance and hate – or even racism.”

    Of course, the same view by 𝙨𝙤𝙢𝙚 applies to the American flag. Shall they ban that as well?

    And who is ‘some’? And from whence their view that they have police-like powers of enforcement?

    This is a powerful example of the urgent need for full school choice, to include home, private (secular and religious), and charter schools.

    1. Right you are, hb! Remember the American flag was, in fact, deemed “racist” during the 2020 campaign, and kids have been sent home from school for wearing the stars and stripes on their clothing because it’s hostile to other students.

  11. These school scumbag prohibitionists backed off & ate crow because they didn’t want to get sued (then fired) for violating the student’s 1st amendment rights.
    There are ample & recent examples of schools engaging in anti-rights views & actions. They all got slapped down, faced federal lawsuits, or retreated, knowing they were/are wrong.
    It’s common knowledge that students can express their opinions via t-shirts & patches,…..WTF didn’t this schoolboard know?

  12. The Left’s instincts are always totalitarian. This is but one example. Although western civilization would not have ended if the woke radicals had won in this particular case, this is of a piece with their ongoing destruction of all norms and institutions of western civilization. This is an existential fight.

  13. Did anyone else notice in the video of the mom and kid sitting down for a pow wow about this how SMALL the patch was and that it was just one of a number of backpack decorations? Someone really had to be looking for trouble to even NOTICE that patch, much less object to it.

    1. Yeah maybe they figured out a bit late that a history book has more reliable history information than a guy who specializes in graphic arts, haha.

  14. All of this could have been avoided if they instead just left this child alone.

    Never put stupidity in charge.

  15. Well hello! The School Board voted in support of the 12 year old Student and against the School Administrators who trumped up the objections to the patch on the Kid’s Back Pack……and at the same time reminded them of some commonsense.

    Now the other kids in the school are showing their support by displaying that “offensive” icon…..much to the consternation of the Leftist Radicals in the management.

    I see a pretty good civics lesson in all of this….and delight in the smack down of those who attempted to foist yet another hoax upon us.

    That symbol…..went to sea on the original US Navy’s ships….and had nothing at all to do with Slavery or Race….something that should be part of a proper US History Class or perhaps Civics instruction where Flag Protocol is taught.

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