By Tyler Hartmeyer
Through thorough research, I have concluded that the Pike Confederate flag finial was installed in the Trinity chapel in 1957 as a symbol of White Supremacy at a predominantly white male college. This installation occurred during the Civil Rights era, which proved to not be a coincidence, but rather a symbol of hatred and racism. Primary sources dating back to the 1950’s have proved that the finial was never regarded as controversial, but times have since changed. In 2017, the finial was removed from the chapel by members of the Trinity community after there was discussion surrounding the deeper meaning of the carving.
My public proposal project entails moving the Confederate flag finial from the Trinity College chapel to the Watkinson Library on Trinity’s campus. The display in the Watkinson will include the carving in a glass case, to protect it from theft and vandalism as it is a very controversial iconographic symbol, along with letters, articles and other primary sources from the 1950’s alongside it. On the other side of the carving, articles, and other primary sources from 2017, when the carving was removed from the chapel, will be included. There will also be an accessible handout with questions that professors can use to guide their classes through discussions about the finial. This display will serve to educate members of the Trinity Community on how to discuss difficult history, all while acknowledging and recognizing how the college has made mistakes in the past, to further from repeating these mistakes in the future.
Update: The finial will be included in a new Watkinson exhibit of the college archives starting Fall 2019!
For the full research findings, click here: