Mississippi Holds Out for Confederate Flag One Year After Charleston

One year after public outcry forced the removal of the Confederate flag from state grounds and public institutions following the killing of nine Black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., by a Confederate flag-waving gunman, there is still refusal by some to let go of the divisive symbol.

The state of Mississippi has been unable to bring itself to remove the Confederate symbol from its flag, remaining the only state in the U.S. still featuring the emblem on its flag, despite 12 bills filed in the state legislature this year to change the flag, which all died in committee.

Even institutions deeply steeped in tradition, such as the University of Mississippi and the University of Southern Mississippi, have removed the symbol from their campuses.

Earlier this month, on Flag Day, opponents of the flag rallied in front of the U.S. Capitol to protest the emblem’spresence on Mississippi’s flag and call attention to a federal lawsuit arguing the flag incites racial violence and infringes upon the 14th Amendment protections for Black residents.

Mississippi has the highest percentage of Black residents of any state, at nearly 38 percent.

The lawsuit, filed by Black Mississippi attorney Carlos Moore, claims lawmakers disregarded their duty to act on bills introduced after the Charleston shooting. In addition to infringing on the 14thAmendment, Moore argues that the federal government should remove the flag based on itsability to remove “badges and incidents of slavery” under the 13th Amendment.

Although there is an emotional movement to get rid of the Confederate flag because it symbolizes racial hatred, there is an equally passionate group who claim the flag is a symbol of Southern pride.

U.S. House Republican leaders earlier this month blocked Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi from trying to ban Confederate symbols from the House side of the Capitol, according to The Associated Press, with Thompson, the state’s sole Black delegate saying the House “will continue to sanction and glorify relics of bondage, bigotry and oppression.”

Moreover, Republican lawmakers quickly passed a bill in the middle of the night last week while all eyes were focused on the Democrats’ gun control sit-in, that removed a provision limitingthe display of the Confederate flag in certain federal cemeteries. The House had voted in favor of the ban by a vote of 265-159 in May, with most Republicans voting against the ban, but the House-Senate compromise version of that bill, which passed in the middle of the night, did not include the flag provision. The White House has promised to veto the bill as it is currently written.

Meanwhile, the Southern Baptist Convention last week approved a resolution urging Christians to stop displaying the Confederate flag, officially recognizing it as a “symbol of hatred, bigotry, and racism.”

And the Washington National Cathedral this month said it will remove two images of the Confederate flag from the building’s stained glass windows, which memorialize Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. They were installed in 1953 after lobbying by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

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