College, clergymen and even Walmart chimed in on the embattled Mississippi state flag on Tuesday, with both saying it’s time to change the banner that features the divisive Confederate battle emblem.
The Mississippi Association of Community Colleges, which represents Mississippi’s 15 two-year schools, unanimously voted to support changing the state flag, the organization announced Tuesday.
“We believe the flag of Mississippi should be one that unites all of us towards a prosperous future,” the association said in a statement. “We believe now is the time for change to occur.”
Additionally, the Mississippi Baptist Convention said its 16-member executive committee voted to support changing the flag, executive director Shawn Parker said Tuesday.
“While some may see the current flag as a celebration of heritage, a significant portion of the state sees it as a relic of racism and a symbol of hatred,” Parker said.
Parker noted African Americans in Mississippi make up 38% of the population and said “what offends them should offend us.”
“The racial overtones of the flag’s appearance make this discussion a moral issue. ... It is therefore apparent that the need to change the flag is a matter of discipleship for every follower of Jesus Christ,” he said.
Southern Baptist make up the largest religious denominations among white Mississippians.
These announcements come as elected officials and other groups have made their positions about the flag known amid a recent debate over having two state flags — one with the Confederate emblem and another without it.
Gov. Tate Reeves said he opposes the premise of having two state flags as a solution, calling it a recipe for further division.
“Over the weekend there has been a proposal floating amongst some in the Legislature to create a second Mississippi flag. Let’s call it the ‘Separate but Equal’ flag option,” Reeves said Monday on social media.
Reeves has repeatedly said any attempt to change the flag should come at the ballot box, not through legislation. Mississippians voted by a 2-to-1 margin in 2001 to keep the current state flag.
However, Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus chair Sen. Angela Turner Ford, D-West Point, said the state flag should see action by the legislature.
“The Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus maintains its position that the Mississippi Legislature vote to remove the current state flag and adopt a design that is inclusive,” she said. “We can vote while we are assembled and meeting at the Capitol.
“We want one unifying flag that does not incorporate confederate symbols or connotations. Our constituents, student athletes and businesses deserve better.”