Kansas OKs new license plate to benefit gun group; critics say it celebrates slavery

The Kansas Legislature has approved a new license plate design with a flag that critics say honors a slave trader and was prominently featured in the U.S. Capitol invasion in January. Sales of the plate will benefit the Kansas State Rifle Association, the state affiliate of the National Rifle Association and the leading gun-rights lobbying group in the Statehouse. The new plate will be designed around the Gadsden Flag, a Revolutionary War banner featuring a coiled rattlesnake and the phrase “Don’t Tread on Me.” The yellow flag was originally a banner of the early U.S. Marines, but more recently has been adopted as a symbol of resistance to the contemporary United States government. Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City and one of only two African-American state senators, objected to having Gadsden Flags decorating Kansas license plates. The flag was designed by Christopher Gadsden, a colonel in the Continental Army who also played a key role in the slave trade. He owned Gadsden’s Wharf in Charleston, S.C., where an estimated 100,000 captive Africans entered the country and were auctioned off as slaves. Haley said he “reluctantly” voted yes on the overall bill, House Bill 2166, to support the five other causes whose custom license plates were included. But “For the legacy of this despot (Gadsden) who too will be included, I’m ashamed that we have added this to this bill,” he said. “Why we have to keep this foul piece in is beyond me on something else that is so well-done.” […]

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