After drawing fire from black leaders for making special license plates that feature the Confederate battle flag, Maryland plans to recall the plates.

Marilyn Corbett, spokeswoman for the state Motor Vehicle Administration, said Thursday the state will offer free replacement plates - without the flag - to the members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans who now have the special plates.Black leaders gathered in Baltimore Wednesday to criticize the state for failing to eliminate the emblem they see as racist.

"We're not going to tolerate any symbol of the oppression and slavery of our people," Benjamin Chavis, chief executive of the National African American Leadership Summit, said before Thursday's announcement.

"Most places are taking it down," Chavis said. "Maryland is going against a national trend by putting it up."

The flag appears on 78 out of about 3.7 million Maryland license plates, the Motor Vehicle Administration says.

Its use was authorized two years ago for members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, one of about 170 nonprofit organizations that have gotten special plates in Maryland. The department received its first complaints about the flag last week.

"Symbols are significant and important. Ask a Jewish person about the significance of the swastika," said Clarence Mitchell IV, a caucus member. "The state should not produce any symbols that impact negatively on the community."

The plates display a small Confederate battle flag on the left side and "Sons Confederate Veterans" written under the numbers.

Members of the group say the organization is not racist and abhors the activities of groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.

In South Carolina, the governor has proposed removing the Confederate battle flag from atop the last Statehouse to fly it.