For Byron Thomas, the Confederate battle flag isn't about race.
The flag that the black 19-year-old University of South Carolina Beaufort student hung from his dorm room window is about Southern pride -- pride that even a black Southerner can feel, he said.
Thomas, who grew up in North Augusta, said the South has been good to him. It's a land of church, football and "good eats," he said.
Thomas researched the history of the flag for a class project. That research convinced him the banner was about states' rights rather than slavery.
"That's all people want to see is racism. They want to see the KKK. They think of slavery. But that flag is a battle flag used for communication (during the fighting)," Thomas said.
When he hung it from his window, he knew it might offend some people, he said, but he thought it was time to start reclaiming a symbol that earlier generations consider racist.
Among those upset by the flag were USCB's Office of Housing, which asked him to take it down two months after he displayed it.
USCB spokeswoman Candace Brasseur said the housing office heard complaints from students who were offended.
Brasseur said Thomas was told about two weeks ago he could hang it in his dorm room as long as his roommates didn't object.
But he would have to remove it from his window -- a public space -- because it violates The Carolinian Creed, a code of "civilized behavior" for students that includes respecting the rights of others and discouraging bigotry.
Brasseur said the university won't comment further pending a legal review, which is standard administrative procedure on questions of legal rights.
Thomas contends the removal violated his freedom of speech. Thomas said he's been in touch with the Sons of Confederate Veterans and an attorney. He's unsure whether he will sue.
"There was no angry mob outside my window," he said