"I said, 'Look, this was to illustrate a character [in the song "Rebels"]. This is not who we are. Having gone through this, I would prefer it if no one would ever bring a Confederate flag to our shows again because this isn't who we are,'" he wrote. "It got a mixed reaction. There were some boos and some cheers. But honestly, it's a little amazing to me because I never saw one again after that speech in that one town. Fortunately, that went away, but it left me feeling stupid."
Confederate Flag in Popular Music: A Recent History
While Petty said he grew up in Gainesville, Florida, where the flag was the "wallpaper of the South," he asks his fellow Southernors to take a step back and ask themselves what that symbol looks like to African-Americans.
"People just need to think about how it looks to a black person," he wrote. "It's just awful. It's like how a swastika looks to a Jewish person. It just shouldn't be on flagpoles. Beyond the flag issue, we're living in a time that I never thought we'd see. The way we're losing black men and citizens in general is horrific. What's going on in society is unforgivable. As a country, we should be more concerned with why the police are getting away with targeting black men and killing them for no reason. That's a bigger issue than the flag."
Read Petty's full essay here.