Confederate flag
A man wears a "Heritage not Hate" T-shirt before a "Ride for Pride" event to show support for the Confederate flag in Brandon, Hillsborough County, June 26, 2015. Several hundred people took part in the event.REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Despite recent controversy over the Confederate flag, a small majority of Americans see the flag as a symbol of Southern pride instead of one of racism, a recent CNN/ORC poll revealed.

According to the poll, 57% of Americans view the flag as a symbol of Southern pride, down slightly from 2000 when 59% said they saw it as a symbol of pride. CNN reported that opinions regarding the flag are divided by race, and among whites, opinions are divided by levels of education.

Among white respondents, 66% viewed the flag as a symbol of Southern pride and 25% viewed it as a symbol of racism. Meanwhile, among black respondents, 17% considered it a symbol of Southern pride and a staggering 72% viewed it as racist.

CNN reported that 51% of whites with a college degree view the flag as a symbol of Southern pride. That number rises to 73% among those without a college degree. Forty-one percent of college educated whites viewed it as racist, while only 18% of those without a college degree thought it was a symbol of racism.

Minority think flag should be redesigned

The poll, which was released on 2 July, comes on the heels of a shooting of a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina that left nine churchgoers dead. The suspected shooter, Dylann Roof, has been seen in several photographs with the Confederate flag.

Those photographs caused debate over whether the flag should continue to be displayed in government property and sold in stores. According to the CNN poll, 55% of Americans believe the flag should be removed from government property that is not part of a museum.

Only 40% of Americans believe that state flags featuring the Confederate emblems or symbols should be redesigned, the poll revealed.

One area where both white and black Americans appeared to agree on was whether the shootings in Charleston should be considered a hate crime. Overall, 87% think they should be considered a hate crime. Blacks overwhelmingly see the shootings as a hate crime at 92%, as do whites at 86%.