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Analysis: Mississippi flag folded at some public buildings

 

Mississippi voters chose to keep a Confederate battle emblem on the state flag in 2001, but that election did not equate to a universal embrace of the banner.

The flag has disappeared in recent years from some public buildings, particularly in majority-black areas, as local officials expressed concern that it represents division rather than unity.

The Mississippi flag has been folded in more places since last month, when the massacre of nine black worshippers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, prompted widespread discussion about displaying Old South symbols on public property. The man charged in the shootings had posed with the Confederate battle flag in photos posted online before what police say was a racially motivated attack.

One section of Mississippi law makes flying the state flag optional, not mandatory: “The state flag may be displayed from all public buildings from sunrise to sunset; however, the state flag may be displayed from all public buildings 24 hours a day if properly illuminated.”

A separate section of law says: “The flag of the State of Mississippi and the flag of the United States shall be displayed in close proximity to the school building at all times during the hours of daylight when the school is in session when the weather will permit without damage to the flag.” This section says the school board is responsible for providing the flags, but there’s no penalty if the flags aren’t flown.

Here’s a look at some developments:

» Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree on June 25 ordered the Mississippi flag taken down from most city buildings to show respect for those killed in Charleston.

» Clarksdale Mayor Bill Luckett ordered the state flag taken down from City Hall in early July. “We need a flag that unites and does not divide,” Luckett told The Associated Press.

» Petal aldermen voted unanimously July 7 to keep the flag aloft at city buildings. “As long as we are part of the state of Mississippi, we will fly that flag,” Mayor Hal Marx said, according to the Hattiesburg American.

» The Magnolia City Council voted 3-0 July 7 to remove the flag from city buildings. Joe Cornacchione, an alderman absent during the vote, later said he wants to keep the flag flying because it represents the sacrifice southerners made who fought in the Civil War, according to the Enterprise-Journal.

“Are we going to take down the U.S. flag next?” Cornacchione said. “Are we going to replace it with a rainbow flag?”

Days after the council vote, protesters marched in Magnolia.

Mayor Anthony Witherspoon said of the flag: “It represents the fight to keep slavery. I think it’s ironic that the protesters were waving the actual Confederate battle flag, not the actual state flag at the rally.”

» The Grenada City Council voted 4-3 on July 13 to remove the state flag from city buildings.

» The Mississippi flag has not flown at Jackson City Hall for years. The City Council unanimously adopted a resolution July 14 calling for a new banner.

“The flag, in its present design, vehemently denotes a spirit of racial division, hatred and slavery ideology,” the resolution says. “The state of Mississippi will be better served by a new flag design representing inclusion of all people.”

» The Gulf Coast Business Council and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce in recent weeks have both endorsed removing the Confederate emblem from the state flag.

“It’s time for a change,” the business council chairman, Ron Peresich, told The Sun Herald. “It offends too many people.”

EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS, Associated Press

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5 comments

  1. It is my understanding it also does not fly in Ocean Springs.

  2. Diane Rivenbark

    It offends me, a descendant of Civil War soldiers who fought in a war that 680,000 sacrificed their lives. I t was over tariffs and states’ rights. Slavery issue wasn’t the reason. After 4th generation or indentured servitude was ended or paid off, they would have been freed. They were taken care of in old age. This was the agricultural economy of the South. Heritage Not Hate. The preservation trusts and historical organizations should fight this. It won’t stop with flags- monuments, carvings, markers, statues, and Ten Commandments are threatened.

  3. The Mississippi Dept. of Environmental Quality took it and the U.S. flag down years ago.

  4. Hmmmm… Yes! SLAVERY of Africans was under the Stars and Bars (confederate) for about 5 years but, was founded and utilized world wide LONG before and since the birth of America! The many variations of the flags associated with the United States of America were the ONLY flags known to a vast number of African slaves in the 85 years (76-61) prior to the flag that would signal the VIOLENT END of African slavery in America.

    Africans have never held exclusivity to SLAVERY in America or the world for that matter; nor is their torment or the torment of SLAVERY of any peoples limited to a 5 year period (1861-1865) in the southern states of America!

    History is in the PAST; erasing, forgetting, or ignorance of it is the next step in reliving it; something humans have been doing since time immemorial and, that flag WILL never be hauled down.

    The true symbol of HATE that will never be justly recognized (another human trait) is the disavowed heritage of ANY group because of one group’s current desirous and rancorous dominance of the other! ALL Americans have a historically vested interest in the Confederate States of America flag(s) whether they can calmly rationalize it or not.

    Should the Confederate States of America flag(s) fly over any thing; ANY THING?; graves, historical buildings, battle fields, state capitols, Ole MISS, NASCAR, maybe; but, at least not forgotten, considering the true meaning of such a symbol of our tumultuous, strained, costly, but undeniably unified past?

    We unwittingly share this sentiment as a vigilantly united peoples under that other unrecognized symbol of SLAVERY the Star and Stripes!

    P.S. FUN FACT:
    In 2002(sic?) when Mississippi voted on a flag change they were given a choice by a committee headed by a former governor; that if you knew your history would be known to you, the existing state flag that has the stars and bars in the canton with red, white, and blue stripes; a combination that never saw service in the C.S.A., or an NEW flag with a ring or a circle of 13 white stars on a blue canton with red, white, and blue stripes which was actually a true variation of one of the many styles of Confederate flags flown during the civil war. Mississippians rightfully voted to keep the non Confederate flag; sooo… somebody out there knows some history even if the governor does NOT.

  5. Ok, so if the people voted to keep it at a high percent how can politicians remove it. Remove the politicians that took it down. We can’t say the Civil War didn’t happen no more than we can say JFK and MLK weren’t killed for what they believed. Slavery has been present for thousands of years and is still present in the world today. Let’s fight that instead.

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