On Friday, South Carolina removed the Confederate flag from its state buildings. The Palmetto State’s flag, blue with a palmetto tree and a crescent moon, has remained unchanged, but other flags might not be so lucky.
The Confederate flag debate started after the racially-motivated murders of nine members of a black church in Charleston, SC. Since those murders, symbols of the Confederacy have been defaced or removed throughout the country.
Now, Mississippians are divided over their state’s official flag, which features the Southern Cross in the upper left corner.
Chad Scott, a spokesperson for the Magnolia State Heritage Campaign, a political organization that focuses on the cultural and historical traditions of Mississippi, told the Meridian Star:
“The flag represents our Southern culture, our heritage, and our ancestry.
“An attack on the flag is an attack on myself and on my way of life.”
According to the Christian Science Monitor, the divide over the flag is particularly evident in the Mississippi cities of Hattiesburg and Petal. In Hattiesburg, local officials have removed the state flag from all city-owned buildings, but in Petal, the city next door, officials continue to fly the flag on all city properties.
Mississippi Speaker of the House Philip Gunn (R) has sought to convene a special legislative session regarding the state flag, but Governor Phil Bryant (R) has refused.
Speaker Gunn issued a statement:
“We must always remember our past, but that does not mean we must let it define us.
As a Christian, I believe our state’s flag has become a point of offense that needs to be removed. We need to begin having conversations about changing Mississippi’s flag.”