Immigrants take back American flag in new film
A new National Geographic documentary is examining life inside a factory that makes American flags and whose employees are primarily refugees and immigrants.
Why it matters: The American far right has adopted the U.S. flag as one of its main symbols and waved it during the Jan. 6 insurrection. Others say the American flag has been co-opted and holds more uniting values, especially for immigrants.
Details: "The Flagmakers," currently airing on Disney Plus, will debut Friday on Hulu on the second anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot.
- The film follows refugees and migrants from Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia who work at the Eder Flag factory in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
- They speak of what the American flag means to them and how it gave them hope as they fled violence, poverty, and uncertainty in their former countries.
- The film tracks the workers amid the pandemic, racial justice protests, and the racial violence and discrimination they face. Yet they still go on making flags.
What they're saying: "The people that literally sew the stars and stripes of our nation are very much representational of our nation," filmmaker Cynthia Wade told Axios.
- Wade said Eder Flag is among the largest flag factories in the country and has more than 200 employees, most of who are immigrants and refugees.
- Wade said the film crew spent weeks at the factory where they talked to employees and noticed the different languages spoken and the different music coming from radios.
- "We just thought this would be a really wonderful entry point to create a film that is really a meditation on the American dream."
Between the lines: Wade said she and co-director Sharon Liese had become uncomfortable with how the American extreme right used the American flag.
- The American flag, along with the Confederate flag and other flags linked to white supremacy, was used to damage the Capitol Building on Jan. 6 and has been seen at other far-right rallies in recent years.
Yes, but: The American flag was used by Civil Rights marchers from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1964 to press segregationists to honor the nation's promise of equality.
- War World II veteran Dr. Hector P. Garcia urged fellow Mexican American veterans to use the U.S. flag in marches and rallies to fight discrimination.
- Native Americans also wave the American flag at powwows while honoring Indigenous veterans.
The intrigue: Eder Flag provided the flags for Vice President Kamala Harris and President Biden during the Democratic National Convention.
What's next: Eder Flag has been busy with orders since the film debuted, Wade told Axios.