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.
“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.”
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.