Mississippi's Black Legislators are calling on the governor to hold a special session to change the state flag. The move comes as the nation reacts to violence in Virginia over a confederate monument.
The fifty-one member Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus sent a letter to Republican Governor Phil Bryant. They say violence in Charlottesville, Virginia shows the state's flag with the confederate battle emblem resonates with racists. They write it's time to reject white nationalism and hold a special session to change the flag. A Caucus member, Democratic Representative Earle Banks of Hinds County, says any special session requires preparation.
"But before I see a special session. I want to see a dialogue, I'd like to see a committee formed to again study the flag design, concepts and so forth before we just go for a special session to deal with the flag and that special session goes nowhere," said Banks.
The request for the session is going nowhere. Byrant has said in the past, Mississippians by a wide margin voted to keep the flag in 2001. After this latest request, the governor said in a statement his position hasn't changed. Views are entrenched on the issue. For many, confederate symbol represents racism and the state's slavery and Jim Crow past. Others like Walter Kennedy with The Dixie Alliance, embrace confederate monuments and symbols because of heritage.
"That flag memorializes my family members. I'm going to be buried in a cemetery in Copiah County one day. Within 30 feet of where I will be buried is my great grandfather a confederate veteran. When you attack that flag and that history you're attacking my family," said Kennedy.
Kennedy says they reject using confederate symbols for hate. The Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus also called for a special session to change the flag after the 2015 church shooting in South Carolina.