At least two Betsy Ross-style American flags were displayed at President Joe Biden’s inaugural on Wednesday, though Democrats and leading left-wing figures have denounced the design as a racist symbol of America’s founding.
“Remember when they said the Betsy Ross flag was racist? Now all of a sudden it’s not racist because Biden uses it…? I mean you cannot make this crap up,” Turning Point USA contributor Jordan Rachel wrote on Twitter along with a photo of the flags.
Ross, an upholsterer by trade, has been credited with sewing the first American flag — a circle of 13 stars on a blue field with red and white stripes — during the Revolutionary War era. Historians differ over whether she actually created the first flag, though most generally agree that she did make flags during the war.
Nevertheless, Democrats and left-wing leaders have complained that the flag is representative of the white supremacy that was evident during the nation’s founding.
That includes former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who in 2019 pressured sports-clothing giant Nike, which employs him as a brand spokesman, to ditch a shoe featuring the Betsy Ross flag, ahead of its scheduled debut in time for Independence Day, 2019.
“Nike has chosen not to release the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July, as it featured the old version of the American flag,” the company said via a spokeswoman in late June.
The Wall Street Journal was first to report that Kaepernick complained about the shoe design. The paper said, “Kaepernick told the company it shouldn’t sell a shoe with a symbol that he and others consider offensive.”
After the shoe’s design was posted online, the WSJ reported, citing sources, that Kaepernick reached out to Nike officials and said that he and others believe the Betsy Ross design is “an offensive symbol because of its connection to an era of slavery.”
Others responded online with similar sentiments, the Journal noted. Kaepernick would not comment when contacted by the paper, however.
“Thank you for doing the right thing. CA is open for business and welcomes those that represent the best of our American values,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom noted on Twitter at the time.
Hey, @Nike — we’re just a quick jaunt over the border…
Thank you for doing the right thing. CA is open for business and welcomes those that represent the best of our American values. pic.twitter.com/dLN7EuYBFS
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) July 3, 2019
The flag’s design in the mid-to-late 1770s was meant to depict the first 13 colonies. There were several early versions of the American flag, the Smithsonian Institute notes, according to the WSJ. Stars and bars were added in 1790 after Vermont and Kentucky became states. The flag’s design continued to change over the decades as more states were added to the union.
The 50th star was added to the flag in 1960 after Hawaii became a state.
But the Betsy Ross design has previously come under fire, the WSJ notes. The superintendent of a school district in Michigan apologized in 2016 after some students waved the flag during a high school football game.
According to MLive, a small group of students displayed the Betsy Ross flag along with one supporting the then-GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
“There was no ill-will intended,” Forest Hills Schools Superintendent Dan Behm said at the time. “To the extent anyone felt harassed or intimidated, that was not the intent. I think the students feel horrible and I feel horrible.”