by Jenna Gibson
On Oct. 26, the Mississippi state flag was taken down at the University of Mississippi’s campus. The question concerning the removal of the state flag has been a prevalent issue since 2001, when it was put to a state-wide vote that shook out 2-to-1 in favor of keeping it unchanged. This issue was brought up more recently after the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, that occurred in June, and sparked the matter of whether the Confederate flag should be banned or not. A few cities in South Carolina decided to take down the state flag after the Charleston shooting, due to the shooter using the flag as an object of white supremacy and racism, but some flags still remain throughout the state.
In an interview I had with Allen Coon, President of the College Democrats at Ole Miss, he stated that, “The state flag represents a tradition of pain, racial suppression and white supremacy. It’s not representative of all Mississippians. It’s not representative of our campus. We deserve a flag that represents and unites all Mississippians.”
On Oct. 20, the student senators at Ole Miss voted 33-15-1 to ask the school administration to take down the state flag due to its Confederate emblem. Similar groups representing faculty, staff and the graduate school voted in favor of the same within a few days.
Despite Governor Phil Bryant’s evident opposition to this movement, the flag was taken down on the 26th and put into the University Archives, and an official statement from the University was released the same day. This removal of the state flag on Ole Miss’s campus even got recognition from Hillary Clinton.
“It’s the first step to recognizing that we’ve been promoting the wrong narratives for a very long time and excluding the voices of many Mississippians,” Coon said. “[Removing the state flag from Ole Miss] will help us realize that we need to promote the ideals that we claim to stand for as a state.”
Jackson State University, Mississippi Valley State University and Alcorn State University are public colleges in Mississippi who do not fly the flag on their campuses. On Oct. 28, the University of Southern Mississippi also took the state flag off its campus.
The state flag has not been flown on the Millsaps College campus in 15 years.
“For me, [the state flag] isn’t just a symbol; it’s a social justice issue.” Coon continued, “And regardless of what the majority opinion is, this is a matter of right and wrong, not [a matter of] what the majority of the people want.”