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 researched the history of the flag for a class project. That research convinced him the banner was about states' rights rather than slavery.
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.