As a reckoning wave of civic and social awareness hits the country and statues of Confederate figures topple, the use of the Confederate flag is finally being questioned and we are starting to see less and less of it. NASCAR banned it and Mississippi is looking to change their flag but there is one instance where the emblem — which has been long-associated with racism — will remain: on a car from Dukes of Hazzard in a museum in Illinois.
The Volo Auto Museum is home to the “General Lee”, the last 1969 Dodge Charger used during the first season of the classic TV series which ran 1979 through 1985. The car is stamped with the Confederate flag on the roof. Located outside of Chicago, the museum has said that the car will stay put despite the shift in the social landscape.
“We feel the car is part of history, and people love it,” museum director Brian Grams told the local Crystal Lake publication Northwest Herald. “We’ve got people of all races and nationalities that remember the TV show and aren’t offended by it whatsoever. It’s a piece of history and it’s in a museum.”
Grams said that since acquiring the car in 2005, the car has garnered no complaints. He said: “Several people have reached out with positive comments about us leaving it on display complimenting us for leaving it there and not having a knee-jerk reaction to remove it like a lot of places are.”
This includes Ben Jones, who appeared in the original Dukes of Hazzard as Cooter and served in House of Representatives. He has been an open supporter of the Confederate flag, saying that it is a symbol of Southern culture. He applauded the news that the museum was keeping the General Lee, posting on Facebook: “The Volo museum is one of the finest automobile museums in the nation. Good for them!!”
Another iteration of the General Lee was acquired by professional golfer Bubba Watson, but after winning it, he removed the Confederate flags from the car.
Grams adds that they would not remove the General Lee as it is a piece of history and they wouldn’t remove it just like they wouldn’t think of removing the Nazi memorabilia displayed in the museum in the military section. “If we’re going to get complaints about the General Lee being here, we’ve got much worse items over in our military building,” he said.