The Confederate flag debate appears to be moving from South Carolina to Mississippi, where the state flag prominently features the Confederate battle flag.
On Monday, South Carolina’s governor and two senators held a joint press conference to announce a bipartisan push to take the Confederate flag down from the state capitol grounds.
The announcement came in the aftermath of last week’s massacre in a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina. The alleged shooter, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, has been repeatedly photographed wielding the Confederate battle flag, which is often used by white supremacists.
But as many observers pointed out, several Southern states have official flags that evoke Confederate images. Of those, Mississippi is by far the least subtle.
At least one prominent Republican is calling for Mississippi to get rid of the Confederate icon. The Clarion-Ledger reports that Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn (R) released a statement on Monday calling for the Confederate emblem to go.
“We must always remember our past, but that does not mean we must let it define us,” Gunn said. “As a Christian, I believe our state’s flag has become a point of offence that needs to be removed. We need to begin having conversations about changing Mississippi’s flag.”
According to The Associated Press, State Sen. Kenny Wayne Jones (D), chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, agreed.
“We should be constantly re-examining these types of stereotypes that label our state for what it used to be a long time ago,” he said.
However, not every leader in the state thinks the flag should be changed. Notably, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) said the legislature should not overrule the electorate, which in 2001 voted to keep the state flag as-is.
“A vast majority of Mississippians voted to keep the state’s flag,” Bryant said in a statement, according to the local ABC affiliate WAPT, “and I don’t believe the Mississippi Legislature will act to supersede the will of the people on this issue.”
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