"Welcome ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for coming out."
Andrew Duncomb, an African American, spoke to several hundred people from the capitol steps at the pro-flag rally. He's a member of Oklahoma Confederate Veterans Lives Matters. Duncomb says organizers invited him to Mississippi for the event. He says the confederate emblem is about southern heritage and state's rights.
"That flag stands for freedom from oppression of the government. When you talk about what happened in the Civil War, freedom from oppression of the government. They were trying to fight for state rights.That flag stands for our way of living out here in the south," said Duncomb.
Members of the audience greeted Duncomb with handshakes and a hug. He says African Americans have called him an "Uncle Tom," but Duncomb says he has a right to his opinion. He blames the media for thrusting the flag back into the spotlight following the Charleston Nine killings. Rafael Sanchez of the Magnolia State Heritage Campaign agrees.
"Especially some left wing media that's trying to portray this as something that it's not. They're trying to portray it as something of a hate nature and this is really not. This is something that's been with the people of Mississippi for over 100 years," said Sanchez.
Sanchez is sponsoring Initiative 58 to keep the current flag. Sharon Brown, an African American, and a handful of supporters are across the street from the state capitol holding a banner that reads "1 Flag for All." They're here to show their opposition to the current flag with the confederate emblem. Brown's sponsoring Initiative 55, a measure that would take it down.
"It's a symbol of hatred and white supremacy. You have most hate groups waving the flag," said Brown.
Organizations including Dixie Alliance and Sons of Confederate Veterans organized the rally.