A change-the-flag rally that took place Sunday outside the Mississippi Capitol saw 400 protesters demonstrating against the Confederate battle emblem that features on the state’s flag.
The call for the removal of the flag was supported by Civil-rights leader, Myrlie Evers-Williams, Mississippi-born rapper, David Banner, and a prominent South Carolina lawmaker. However, no alternative design to feature on the flag has been proposed.
The emblem, which has a blue X and 13 white stars over a red field, has been on Mississippi’s flag since 1894. It was chosen to be kept by voters in 2001. The debate over whether the emblem should still feature on the flag was reignited after nine people were gunned down at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June. Soon after the shooting, pictures of the gunman, Dylann Roof, surfaced on social media that showed him waving the flag. The police say the shooting was a hate crime.
By retaining the emblem on the flag, Mississippi is affecting its own economy, Republican state Rep. Jenny Horne, of South Carolina, said. “It is a new South. The economic development opportunities that Mississippi is missing out on — you don’t even know it, but it’s costing all citizens jobs,” Horne said. On Sunday, she wore a lapel pin with a picture of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, the minister of Emmanuel AME Church who was among the fatally shot in the June 17 incident. She further said that South Carolina’s decision to remove the flag from its grounds came as a result of the tragedy, adding that she is “cautiously optimistic” that Mississippi will change its flag.
The stand on the Confederate flag has been divided. While critics say the flag is a symbol of slavery and segregation and that the emblem is a misrepresentation of a state that has 38 percent black population, supporters say it symbolizes history and heritage.
According to NOLA.com, Evers-Williams said that Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee pulled himself away from Confederate symbols after the South faced defeat in the Civil War. “If a former Confederate general recognizes the divisiveness of a symbol of disunity, we must do so, also,” she said. Evers-Williams was the national chairwoman of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) from 1995 to 1998; and is the widow of Medgar Evers, the assassinated Mississippi NAACP leader.
The rally was also attended by Mississippi-born rapper, David Banner. He said that it is an insult for the state to be flying the flag on its grounds. “What was the Civil War fought over?” he said. “Be honest. Slavery.”
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