Mississippi state flag again making headlines
Residents voted in 2001 to keep flag as-is
Feb 07, 2014
By Tammy Estwick
JACKSON, Miss. —It’s been 10 years since the Mississippi state flag made headlines, but it’s at the forefront of the news again.
In April 2001, Mississippi voters flooded polling booths to decide if the flag with the Confederate emblem needed a new look.
In August 2012, the Southeastern Conference said Mississippi’s flag could be a problem for bringing baseball tournaments to the state.
Craig Mattox, the SEC’s assistant commissioner of championships, said then that the emblem "would not be a 100 percent deal breaker" but it would be one of several factors considered.
Now, in 2014, a California Bar association sent a letter urging an Orange County city to remove the flag from its civic center, where flags from every other state fly. The letter claimed the Confederate symbol is linked to a legacy or racism, oppression and violence.
Do you think the Mississippi state flag should be changed? Cast your vote in our Instapoll by calling or texting 601-980-4416 and entering "1" for yes or "2" for no. You can also cast your vote on Facebook or Twitter.
"I know what the flag means and it doesn’t mean what they say it means," said Chuck Bond, the chief of staff for the Sons of Confederate Veterans. "They can say that. There are people that think that. But that’s not what the flag was put there for, or in my opinion, what it should represent.
Gov. Phil Bryant responded to the controversy in an interview with 16 WAPT News.
"The people of this state spoke to that. I was surprised by a group of people from California that have such huge debt and real problems within their state, and they’re worried about the Mississippi state flag," Bryant said.
In 2001, 65 percent of voters said they wanted to keep the state flag the way it is.
"The Confederate symbol, it may be the history of (the state), but you have people riding around with Confederate flags and using it in a hateful way, and that’s the image that they’ve given the flag," said Jackson resident Greg Anderson.
State Rep. Kenny Wayne Jones, D-Canton, said it’s not just an image issue, it’s an economic one.
"It has such an ugly history behind it," Jones said.
He said he believes the state is losing jobs and business because of the flag.
"We’re not competitive. It’s not selling itself," Jones said. "This gives the wrong impression. Big business, they wouldn’t want to come."
"There’s a lot of other things that need to be changed in Mississippi before the flag — just to help us economically," Bond said.
Bond said the current flag is a piece of Mississippi history, but in Jackson, Convention Complex leaders admit they’ve had some people shy away from the state flag.
"In advance of the event, they’ve asked that we only set the American flag, or if they get here and see both flags on the stage, they would ask that we take the state flag off and only set the American flag prominently," said Kelvin Moore, of the Jackson Convention Complex.
On the Internet, one is likely to find images of revamped state flags. One Pinterest account claims "Mississippi will probably have to revise the flag soon." So, the creator says he’s putting his design in the public eye now.
"I think in the process of Mississippi trying to heal and sell itself to become the state that we can, this needs to go," Jones said. "I don’t make any beefs about it — this needs to go."
Bryant calls the flag flap ancient history. He said the state is doing just fine without changing its long held traditions.
"If you look at it again, where this state is moving forward, and how fast we’re growing in our economy, it doesn’t seem to have been slowing us down. I don’t think it will. I think other states need to worry about their problems and let us grow," Bryant said.
© 2014, Jackson Hearst Television Inc.