Prominent Mississippians Urge State To Remove Flag's Confederate Emblem

Prominent former and current residents of Mississippi have joined together to urge the state to change its flag, which currently still encompasses a Confederate emblem. On Sunday, the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger published a full-page letter signed by 64 notable people, including former Mississippi State Rep. John Grisham, Morgan Freeman, Archie Manning and Jimmy Buffett.

According to the letter, “It is simply not fair, or honorable, to ask black Mississippians to attend schools, compete in athletic events, work in the public sector, serve in the National Guard, and go about their normal lives with a state flag that glorifies a war fought to keep their ancestors enslaved.”

State Sen. John Horhn also weighed in and described the emblem in his state’s flag as “a turnoff.”

“The tide is turning with business leadership saying it hurts our ability to recruit corporations and with coaches saying it hurts our ability to recruit athletes,” he said.

Debates on what the Confederate flag symbolizes sparked across the country following the Charleston, S.C., massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June that left nine Black churchgoers dead. Pictures of the shooter with Confederate flags and memorabilia surfaced after the attack which was ultimately deemed a hate crime.

Around the country, Confederate flags and related products began disappearing. Major retailers, including Walmart (one of DiversityInc’s 2015 Noteworthy Companies), Sears, eBay and Amazon, removed Confederate flags and merchandise from their stores. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said of the items, “We just don’t want to sell products that make anyone feel uncomfortable and we felt like that was the case.”

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley also quickly called for the flag’s removal from the South Carolina Capitol; following speedy votes from the Senate and House, the flag came down on July 10. Sunday’s letter referenced the state’s decision and suggested that Mississippi follow South Carolina’s lead for a second pivotal time:

Last month, the South Carolina legislature set aside party differences and voted to remove a Confederate battle flag from the capitol grounds in Columbia. This was not the official state flag, nor had it flown gallantly over the statehouse since the Civil War. Rather, it was run up the pole in 1961 as a symbol of resistance to the civil rights movement.

This action by one of the most Southern of states should resonate in Mississippi. In 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union. Twenty days later, Mississippi became the second. The time has come for Mississippi to follow South Carolina again, only now in another direction.

The call to action has been met by a great deal of resistance, notably from Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, who argued that the state already voted to keep the flag the same in 2001 incidentally, the same year Georgia opted to remove the Confederate emblem from its own state flag.

“A vast majority of Mississippians voted to keep the state’s flag,” he said, “and I don’t believe the Mississippi Legislature will act to supersede the will of the people on the issue.”

At the time, 65 percent of the state voted for keeping the original flag, while 35 percent opposed this. This vote brings a whole new issue to light. With 37 percent of the state’s population being Black, it would seem unlikely that such a vote would pass. However, strict requirements about providing government-issued identification when voting hadsignificantly hindered Black voter participation, allowing conservatives to maintain control over the state. In past years, the state used poll taxes and literacy tests in attempts to deter Blacks from voting and was also charged with voter intimidation and suppression.

Also concerning is the fact that the state has failed to elect a Black person to statewide office since reconstruction despite its significant Black population.

But if the flag was left up to vote again, it could possibly yield a different outcome. Black voter participation has been on the rise and in some states including Mississippi significantly outnumbered white voter participation, according to the Census. If this trend continues, as well as the rise of the Black population in the state, the results may show Mississippi doesn’t feel the way it did in 2001.

Many supporters of the flag describe it as a critical part of history. However, as Sunday’s letter explains, what the flag symbolized during the Civil War era is no longer inclusive of today’s population: “The Rebel Flag meant one thing to Lee and his men 150 years ago,” it says. “Today, to many, it stands for something far different.”

“It’s time for Mississippi to fly a flag for all its people,” the letter concluded.

Latest News

Inherent Racism Revealed in COVID-19 Vaccine Trials; Texas Sheriff Charged in Death of Javier Ambler While in Police Custody; AOC Attacks Trump Over $70k Spent on His Hair; and More

Major COVID-19 vaccine trials currently underway lack racial inclusion. The research being carried out in search of a vaccine for COVID-19 contains a startling lack of diversity, according to a new story from Fast Company’s Kristin Toussaint. While the stats on COVID-19’s attack on people of color continue to alarm…

Anti-Asian Racism in the United States Continues to Soar as a Result of Attitudes Over COVID-19; the Myth of ‘Defund the Police’; and More

Pandemic continues to cause soaring levels of anti-Asian racism. It was only a matter of time: the White House’s constant referral to COVID-19 as the “China Virus” has indeed caused a tidal wave of continuing racism against people of Asian ancestry, according to a new report published in the American…

Biden Stands by His Commitment to LGBTQ rights; Cost of Racism in the U.S. Tops $16 Trillion; Black and Latinx Continue to Die from COVID-19 at Nearly Twice the Rate of Whites; and More

Biden reaffirms commitment to LGBTQ rights; promises to pass Equality Act. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden doubled down on his promises to the LGBTQ community while speaking at a presidential town hall for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation on Sept. 24. “You deserve a partner in the White House to…

degeneres, work, show

Leadership Lessons to be Gleaned from Ellen DeGeneres’ Toxic Workplace Scandal

Ellen DeGeneres began her daytime talk show’s 18th season with an apology after a summer of allegations against her that claimed her show promoted a toxic work environment rife with racism, sexual misconduct and other mistreatment. In August 2020, three senior producers — executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman…

COVID entrepreneur

Explosive New Growth in Small Businesses Due to COVID-19; America’s Police Force is Not Becoming More Diverse Despite BLM Movement; the Best and Worst Performing States in the 2020 Census; and More

Even with incredible nationwide unemployment rates, the creation of new small and diverse businesses has exploded due to COVID-19. Finally some news coming out of our pandemic: The Philadelphia Tribune reports that as bars and restaurants closed and stay-at-home orders were put into place earlier in 2020 to help fight…

Justice for Breonna not served; The essential rule of politics; Teen serves two months in jail for not doing homework; and More

Justice for Breonna not served as grand jury indicted officer who shot her with wanton endangerment — but not murder. “Outrageous and offensive.” Those were  by attorney to the family, Ben Crump to describe the grand jury’s decision in the March 13 fatal police shooting of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor. While…

IBM, EEOC, age

EEOC Unearths Years of Intentional Age Discrimination within IBM

After a long investigation, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has revealed that IBM leaders had directed managers to replace older workers with younger ones. Between 2013 and 2018, nearly 86% of those considered for layoffs within the organization were older employees over the age of 40. The investigation showed…

Breathe March in Globe Park, New York, USA - 12 Sep 2020

Cities under attack from the Justice Department; Louisville bracing for the Breonna Taylor murder charge; Twitter reveals its racist side; and More

Justice department attacks three U.S. cities, declaring them anarchist zones — despite most of the protests that took place in each city being peaceful marches in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. In a move designed to pull federal funding from New York City, Seattle and Portland, OR, the…