JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Some of the candidates for statewide office are putting forward the idea that its past time to change our flag. They are suggesting a new symbol will create an inviting image about Mississippi, instead of one that offends so many people. Other politicians are saying we need to stick with the current design. This week the Mississippi flag was removed from the Freedom Park which overlooks the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Leaders said they removed the flag because the Confederate symbol displayed on the Mississippi state flag is reprehensible and does not reflect our values of inclusivity and equality. They say there is a difference between honoring history and glorifying it.
Mississippi voters approved the current design in 2001 and many people who support the current flag say the design is about heritage. However, a lot has changed since that 2001 vote, and the Confederate symbol is widely used to represent hate, racism and white supremacy.
Our state gets enough negative publicity, changing the flag would send a positive message across the country and around the world that Mississippi is not the backwards, racist state that so many people perceive. In fact, a great option for a new flag is already available. Laurin Stennis, granddaughter of the late Senator John Stennis, created a beautiful, contemporary design that could be a unifying look and should be strongly considered as the state’s new symbol.
Each year there is legislation introduced to change the flag, however those bills are never allowed to advance. When new state leaders are elected this year, they should allow the legislation to move to a vote in next year’s session. It’s good to see some of the candidates already leading that charge.