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Meet Byron Thomas, a Confederate flag waving student at the University of South Carolina. Thomas is making headlines after he appeared on CNN this week defending the flag.

Thomas says that during the Civil War, his ancestor was a cook for one of the Southern regimens and he’s proud of that. The public relations student didn’t seem too bothered with the fact that the regimen in question was fighting to make sure his ancestor(s), and other Black folks, remained slaves.  “I refuse to my turn my back to what he did for the South,” the young man said.

Thomas also penned an op-ed for the Washington Post this week explaining his adoration for an item that symbolizes one of America’s darkest chapters. There have been calls to have the Confederate flag removed from the South Carolina Statehouse after White terrorist Dylann Roof entered a Black church and shot and killed nine people.

“Regardless of what happens at the statehouse, I will continue to hang the Confederate flag in my apartment. Because of that decision, I’ve been called ‘an Uncle Tom’ and ‘a sellout,’ and accused of despising my race. Let me be clear: I love the skin that I am in. God gave me my skin color, but he also gave me freedom to think for myself and the right to stand by my beliefs. My skin color should not determine how I think, what I believe and what flags I hang in my home. This process should teach us all to respect the beliefs of others. I hope those who view the Confederate flag as a symbol of hate  will keep open minds to those who view it as a symbol of Southern heritage and history, regardless of their race.”

Wow. We thought maybe he was trolling us at first, but we guess not.

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Exclusive: The Bullet Scars That Will Forever Haunt Sheryl Lee Ralph’s Son, Etienne Maurice



Sheryl Lee Ralph shared a graphic photo on Instagram earlier this week of her son, Etienne Maurice, laying in a hospital bed bandaged up from bullet wounds. The purpose of the image was to be yet another voice calling to end gun violence.

On Wednesday, students across the country walked out of class to protest against gun violence, something that hit home for Ralph four years ago. “This mother wants #gunreform now! #guncontrol now,” she wrote.

It was during a night out in West Philadelphia that Ralph’s then 22-year-old child was robbed at gunpoint and shot three times; twice in the leg and one which grazed his forehead.

So as Ralph joined Wednesday’s national conversation about gun laws, HipHollywood talked exclusively with Etienne who shared exactly what went down the night a gun could have taken his life for good.

“I was shot four years ago, November 9 … I was black out drunk. The next thing I know I remember I woke up in the hospital, doctor said I had two bullet holes in my leg and a grazed bullet hole above my eyebrow.”

Maurice, who was robbed for his iPhone and his wallet, went on to tell us that this is something that he is reminded of constantly. “Having been shot is something that I carry with me every day. I still have numbness at the bottom of my leg from the nerve damage.”

And while he will always remember how he felt knowing his life almost ended, Etienne had a hard time fathoming how his famous mother felt. “We had the conversation about it last week and she said she peed on herself,” he told us.

For Maurice, he’s proud to see young children use their voices to make change. “There’s so many angles where we can talk about gun violence and how it’s effecting different communities,” he said. “Gun reform needs to take place now.”

Since that night, he hasn’t picked up a drink and has been now sober for four years. As for the suspects, a father-son duo, they are behind bars for attempted man slaughter.

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