Divided Mississippi works toward an agreeable state flag

 

I.     Embracing heritage minus hate

The controversy of the unofficial state Confederate battle flag is still brewing in Mississippi and New Orleans, Louisiana, as historical monuments  and flags have been removed in recent weeks. For some, it represents heritage and Southern pride; while others see hate and oppression from the flag that currently still waves throughout many cities in Mississippi.

In 1860-61, eleven southern states seceded from the United States to protect the institution of slavery forming the Confederate States of America and launching the Civil War. During the 1800’s, the idea of enlisting blacks has always been debated; ironically, arming slaves was a way to set them free. After fighting, African American soldiers would be sent back to plantations after the fighting ended. These soldiers were fighting for a freedom that was never received. According to our American history, Lee asked that the slaves be freed as a condition of fighting, but the bill that passed the Confederate Congress on March 13, 1865, did not offer freedom for those who served.

Organizations such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans, then and currently adopted the flag as a symbol of Southern heritage but the flag also served as a symbol of slavery and white supremacy. Mississippi is the last state of the United States to remove the flag even deeming the April, the Confederate Heritage month. Cities in Mississippi have all taken their own stance on the removal of the flag. Biloxi decided to lower the flag while Gulfport has kept it flying. Gulfport and Biloxi are minutes apart.

II. History of Confederate flag

The “Confederate flag” was never the official flag of the Confederate States of America (CSA). Also known as “Stars and Bar” flag was actually the battle flag of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. During World War II, displays of the battle flag became popular among military troops and units from Southern States. In the mid-20th century, the Battle Flag was again adopted by several segregationist and white supremacists groups, called Dixiecrats.

III. Contemporary hate/ old beliefs

In 2015, the tragic shooting by Dylann Roof at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., that killed nine black parishioners gathered for a bible study sparked more conversation across the United States. Roof wrote a manifesto and flaunted his Confederate gear with great pride.  More hate and extremists groups hold onto this flag more than ever now. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of hate groups have peaked consistently for most of the past 30 years but the 2016 list was greatly represented as white nationalist and anti-Muslim groups. The connections between hate groups, Confederate flags and questionable presidential leadership motivates fear among minorities and African Americans, whom have always been victimized under the Confederate flag.

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