NAACP seeks removal of Mississippi flag in 2 coast counties
GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — The NAACP is asking two more Mississippi counties to stop flying the state flag because it contains the Confederate battle emblem, but the request is meeting resistance from the Sons of Confederate Veterans and some local residents who say it represents history.
Local NAACP leaders on Monday asked boards of supervisors in coastal Harrison and Jackson counties to furl the flag, but neither board took immediate action.
Jackson County NAACP chairman Curley Clark told supervisors they have “the opportunity to be on the right side of history,” The Mississippi Press reported (http://bit.ly/20mTjJY ).
“The history of this state is that it is a racist state and it has been symbolized by the leadership wanting to hold on to the Civil War and what the Confederacy represented,” Clark said. “That flag perpetuates slavery and white supremacy and it is very insulting, demeaning, and something we want to try to put in our past.
“We want to feel equal,” he said. “However, it is very hard to do that with symbols in our face that infer we are inferior and that we do not belong.”
A Vancleave resident, Frank Wiysel, told Jackson County supervisors he supports the Mississippi flag.
“African-Americans should be thankful for the Confederate flag not ashamed of it because it allowed you to be where you are today,” Wiysel said. “We bought y’all over here as slaves and you should be thankful because of where y’all are today.”
Several Mississippi cities and counties, and some public universities, have stopped flying the state flag in recent months.
Debate over the public display of Confederate symbols across the South has intensified since June, when nine black worshippers were massacred at a South Carolina church. The man charged in the slayings had posed for online photos with the Confederate battle flag
Mississippi has had the same flag since 1894 and is the last state with a banner that incorporates the Confederate battle emblem — a red field with a blue X dotted with 13 white stars. In a 2001 election, voters chose to keep the flag rather than replace it with Confederate symbol with a blue square topped by 20 white stars to represent Mississippi’s admission as the 20th state.
James Crowell, the president of the Biloxi NAACP, told Harrison County supervisors that the Confederate emblem is “racist,” the Sun Herald reported (http://bit.ly/20mUQ2O ).
“We will not belabor the basis of our opinion nor argue with the revisionists of history of the Civil War or Southern apologists,” Crowell said. He pointed to Mississippi’s secession declaration, which said: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery, the greatest material interest of the world.”
A Sons of Confederate Veterans member, Wallace Mason, said in Harrison County that nobody has shown that the flag hurts tourism or other Mississippi businesses.
“They don’t have the right to demand the flag be taken down from any public building after it was voted on by the majority,” Mason said.