Mississippi University for Women continues to fly the state flag, despite recent controversy involving the Confederate battle flag and the massacre at a church in Charleston, S.C.
The mass shooting of nine people in South Carolina was the tipping point that got many Americans talking about whether the Mississippi flag should be redesigned. The massacre was widely regarded as a hate crime by gunman Dylann Roof, who hosted a website that had multiple pictures of him posing with the Confederate flag, along with other photos and writings involving white supremacy.
There has been much debate over whether or not the state flag of Mississippi should still be flown, because it still holds the Confederate battle flag symbol, which some claim to be a sign of Southern pride, while others see it as a sign of racism. Some citizens are going so far as to try and change the state flag by getting the public to voice their opinions and vote on it.
"I think the flag being there enables all of us to talk about the flag in a respectful manner, and it helps create that teachable moment for further discussions about whether the flag should continue to be the state flag," said Dr. Jim Borsig, president of the university.
Borsig also said that he thinks the conversation should include the citizens of Mississippi.
"We ought to have a flag that unites us and does not divide the citizens of Mississippi," said Borsig.
Dr. James Ward, a political science professor, had a different opinion.
"It is unfortunate that Mississippi University for Women and the state of Mississippi choose to display a symbol, as part of the state flag, that embodies white supremacy and racial oppression," said Ward.
Even though the issue of the state flag is a controversial topic of discussion throughout the South, not everyone sees the flag as an important issue to worry about.
"I don't understand what the big issue was until, you know, the massacre that happened in South Carolina, and then I just felt like it was kind of a trend, and then most people just kind of started getting on that trend but don't really know much about it," said Antonio Small, a senior at The W.
Dr. Brian Anderson, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at The W, thinks we will start to see people create referenda to get the issue noticed by more Mississippians.
"I think there's a belief that if we're going to change it, we would need another referendum, rather than force elective representatives to have a recorded vote on what is a very, very emotional issue," said Anderson.
Since 1906, the Mississippi state flag has been flown unofficially, after the state legislature repealed the 1894 adoption of the flag. It wasn't until 2001 that the flag was officially re-adopted. Mississippi is the only state that has the Confederate battle flag symbol in its flag.
As of now, most citizens of Mississippi continue to debate about the state flag and the necessity of a new design. There is an abundance of people on both sides of this heated topic who are striving to fight for what they believe and want to see to it that their voices are heard.