A black college student who drew complaints for displaying a Confederate flag in his dorm room window said he sees the banner as a symbol of Southern pride and not racism.

The 19-year-old student at the University of South Carolina Beaufort took the flag down at the university’s request, but he said he’s considering putting it back up after the officials relented. Byron Thomas has drawn nearly 70,000 views since he posted a video online in which he acknowledges: “I know it’s kind of weird because I’m black.”

In a telephone interview Thursday, Thomas said a class research project made him come to the belief that the flag’s real meaning has been hijacked. He said he wants people to thoughtfully consider issues of race and not just knee-jerk reactions to such symbols.

“When I look at this flag, I don’t see racism. I see respect, Southern pride,” he said. “This flag was seen as a communication symbol” during the Civil War.

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