J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Mississippi Stands Firm

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A lawsuit has reignited debate over the presence of Confederate symbols in a Southern state, but in Mississippi, Southerners are mounting a legal defense of their Dixie flag.

A federal complaint filed last week says the Confederate cross on the Mississippi flag is hate speech that endangers African Americans, according to Carlos Moore, a black attorney from Grenada, Miss., who cited the killing last summer of black church-goers in South Carolina.

 

The government of Mississippi is preparing to defend their flag, however. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) said voters should decide whether their flag should be redesigned, not a “frivolous attempt to use the federal court system.” The state’s attorney general, Democrat Jim Hood, said his personal belief is that the flag hurts the state and it should change, but that will not prevent him from fulfilling his oath to defend his state’s laws.
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Although several Southern flags reference elements of the Confederate “Stars and Bars,” Mississippi is the last state to keep the secessionist symbol in its entirety. While some Mississippians say flag the reflects poorly on the state’s image, many see it as a symbol of loyalty to their often misunderstood, even maligned, state history.

“It is frustrating that the United States as a whole lumps us all as a bunch of ignorant racists who are uneducated and don’t have shoes and go around having stereotypes about everybody else,” Bess Averett, director of the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation in Vicksburg, Miss., told The Christian Science Monitor in 2006. “Hey, we have cars and trains like everyone else, so we could leave if we wanted.”

 

In Mississippi, people are digging in their heels in support of both their “Rebel Flag” and self-determination.
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A previous state referendum – in 2001 – showed voters supported keeping the Confederate symbol by nearly a 2 to 1 margin, with a fairly equal voting split coming even from black neighborhoods.

 

Where Mr. Moore sees “state-sanctioned hate speech,” as he wrote in his lawsuit, Southerns see a symbol of their family’s heritage, said Jeremy Gouge, a 44-year-old roofer, who has family ties to the South.

 

“I know there’s things that happened. I can’t control what other people have done,” Mr. Gouge told the Associated Press. “What’s the next flag that someone is going to say, ‘We don’t like that flag, let’s take that one down?'”
(Courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, 3/3/16)
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