Friday, August 19, 2022

Mississippi Flag: Local Leaders Discuss What Will Happen in Oxford if State Keeps Current Design

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The Mississippi state flag on the Oxford Square before it was removed from city property. / Photo courtesy John Coifed

When the City of Oxford voted Tuesday night to not display the flag of the State of Mississippi on City property, it appears few considered the future should the Mississippi Legislature or a public referendum fail to change the flag.

HottyToddy.com polled the public officials to ask what Oxford would do long term if no change is made to the official flag of the State of Mississippi.

Alderwoman Janice Antonow was quick to state “since it is not a flag for ALL of us, we’ll just wait for one that is,” implying a permanent boycott of the flag despite the will of the people.

‘If the flag is not changed, we will not, of course, create our own image for a state flag. But to display the current flag again would be a sad statement to many of our citizens that we don’t care about the hurt that its image causes,” Alderwoman Antonow said.

Alderwoman Robyn Tannehill
Alderwoman Robyn Tannehill

Alderwoman Robyn Tannehill said that the Board hopes a change will be made by the legislature and governor or public vote, but if not, “I believe the Board will revisit the issue.”

“What to do if there is no change? That is a good question,” said Alderman Jay Hughes, a candidate for a seat in the Mississippi Senate. Alderman Hughes said he was “not sure what variables to include . . . but the reality is that our state flag is our state flag. I may disagree with what it has come to symbolize, but I respect the flag until changed.”

Alderman Jay Hughes
Alderman Jay Hughes

“As a military veteran, I followed that same rational with the U.S. flag and the commander in chief. If I were on the school board, I would have voted to keep the flag flying because that is what Mississippi law strictly requires. However, as a city alderman, I voted to remove it because the statutes say that cities may choose to display it or not.”

“If the legislature chooses to not change it, which would be an embarrassment for Mississippi and economic development, then I would likely vote to continue not displaying it,” he added.

Alderwoman Tannehill said the Board’s action was “our vote to send a resolution to our governor and legislators and to cease flying the state flag at city buildings is our attempt to encourage change at the state level. We realize that although we are not flying the state flag, it remains our state flag. Our hope is that our support of change, and that of many communities across the state, will send a strong message to our state officials.”

Mayor Pat Patterson
Mayor Pat Patterson

Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson pointed out the first proposal before the board was by Alderwoman Robyn Tannehill, who had written a resolution to be delivered to the state requesting a change.

“That’s the path I thought we were going to take. I did not know that Janice was going to make a motion to immediately take it down, but it passed 7 to 0. It is the way it works, whether I agree with it or not,” Mayor Patterson said.

Alderman UlyssesHowell-250
Alderman Ulysses “Coach” Howell

Alderman Preston Taylor, who voted to prohibit the current state flag on city property, had “no comment” on future actions on the flag by city leaders. Alderman Ulysses Howell, however, said if no change is made by the state or public vote, he would “suggest we go back to using the flag.”

Ward VI Alderman Jason Bailey said he is hopeful action on the state or public level will be forthcoming, but if not, the city “will want to revisit the situation.”

Senator Gray Tollison
State Senator Grey Tollison

State Senator Grey Tollison said, “I would vote to change the official state flag to something that all Mississippians could be proud of if given the opportunity. I don’t think the current flag represents who we are as a state and does not recognize the progress we have made in the last 50 years. The official state flag can be changed by a majority vote of the House and Senate with approval by the governor.”

Brad Mayo
Representative Brad Mayo

Representative Brad Mayo said, “I would prefer that it be settled legislatively next January. The best course is to address the matter and move on.”


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