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Oxford Rep, Senator Announce Support of Changing State Flag

The Republican Mississippi Senator and House Representative who represent Oxford both released statements Sunday announcing their support to change the Mississippi State flag.

Mississippi Legislators have been meeting in recent days to discuss whether to change the state flag, which carries the Confederate battle emblem. Last week, the Southeastern Conference and the National Collegiate Athletic Association made statements that they will not host athletic regional and state competitions in Mississippi until the state flag is changed. 

MS Sen. Nicole Boyd, District 9.

MS Sen. Nichole Boyd, representing District 9 which includes Oxford and Lafayette County, issued a lengthy statement on why she believes the flag should be changed. 

Here is her statement:

“‘The enemy of good is perfection.’ – Joyce Akins (my mother)

“Ok… so my mother may have “borrowed” the quote from Voltaire. As I was growing up, my mother would remind me that as we seek to accomplish our goals, we need to make sure we do not miss the end goal in our pursuit of the elusive perfect solution. During these past weeks, I have been burdened with my desire to find a “perfect” solution to help our state move forward by finding a flag that could represent all of our citizens and by trying to find a process that would bring unity to our state.

“Although I have been steadfast in my desire to see a new flag for this state, I have avoided social media on this issue and tried to listen to my colleagues and my constituents. I have noticed, during this time, that many run to the microphone and others of us like to allow the “noise” to quiet so that we can listen to what is being said and recognize where there is silence. No one leadership style is better or worse but an acknowledgment that we problem-solve differently. In the intermission of reactive debate, we can now become active and reach common solutions.

“Our flag issue is weighing heavy on most legislators’ hearts, and there have been countless hours of discussions and input. In the legislature, discussions range from no change, alternate flags, a legislative vote, a vote on the ballot, what is on the ballot, and to what new flag, if any flag, we should select. Opinions are vastly different on these issues across the state. I have reviewed and listened to your letters/email, text, and phone calls from many in District 9. Honestly, there are many parts of our state that have differing opinions on our flag; votes cannot simply be made to happen without building a consensus through healthy debate, thus allowing some lawmakers to search their hearts and minds. As discussions continued last week, it became more evident that there is not one “perfect” solution. As I drove home late Friday night, I could almost hear my mother’s voice reminding me: “Even though perfection is not possible, good must still be achieved.” For me, “good” is a new symbol for our state.

“At this moment, given the multiple proposals circulating in the legislature, I am not sure what this new flag looks like or the process that we will have to use to get there. Get ready, this process is going to be messy! I lost count at the 3,500 letters, emails, and phone calls containing strong directives on all aspects of the present flag and possible new flag. Those of you wanting a new symbol for our state need to know that the solutions offered will most likely not be your “perfect” solution. I have already heard from many of you that are angry that your personal “perfect” solution may not be possible. Today, I implore you, my fellow Mississippians, to rally for the “good” solution. Make no mistake a “good” solution will require compromise.

“For those of you who believe we need to keep the present flag, I appeal to you to search your heart. I have read your letters/emails and listened to your calls. When speaking with many of you that do not want the present flag retired, I recognize that this flag represents something very different to you. For some of you, it meant exciting football victories, college parties and special weekends in the Grove with family and friends. Some of you spoke of this as “heritage.” However personal that experience is/was for you, it is not the perception of this flag for the rest of this world, and it is certainly not the experience of this flag for many in Mississippi. Thus, I am asking you to consider the following and call for the “good” and retire our present flag.

“1. All of our citizens and your children deserve a flag that is not a symbol of hate. One cannot ignore that the confederate symbolism of our flag has been used as a symbol of hate for far longer than it was ever used as a symbol of the Confederacy. Recall, the Civil War lasted only four years. Rarely was the flag seen outside of Virginia memorial services for the next 30 years.

“Beginning in 1915, the KKK, attached itself to the Confederate Flag and used it as a symbol. It has been used at lynchings, church and cross burnings, and hung as a symbol to instill fear in Black citizens throughout the South. As Jim Crow-era laws took hold, the flag became more common and was used universally in campaign material by Southern “Dixiecrat” Democrats who cherished segregation. The “heritage” that this flag represents is one of revisionist history in the South and racist atrocities against people of color for over 100 years. Unquestionably, the Confederate Flag was/is employed as a symbol of racism and adopted by almost every racist hate group in America, throughout the last century. Even though this may not be why you cling to this flag, the fact remains the flag has been taken over by racists and, therefore, has morphed into a symbol of racism in our current day society. Is this truly the symbol that you want to represent the place you are raising your children and grandchildren?

“2. Mississippi needs a symbol that represents all Mississippians and is consistent with the values of most Mississippians. With over 75% of Mississippians identifying themselves as religious, one has to ask the question if keeping the present flag is consistent with those values. For Christians, if you are to observe God’s greatest commandment (Mark 12:31) to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself, then you have to question whether this should be the symbol of our state. For my fellow Christians, I ask you, if the blood of Christ flows through all of us, are we not all brothers and sisters in Christ? With almost 40% of Mississippians being people of color, we have to acknowledge that a flag representing hate has to dishonor our brothers, sisters, and ultimately ourselves. On this Father’s Day, I ask you to seek guidance from our Heavenly Father, as will I.

“3. A new flag will open the door to new business. In a rapidly developing global economy, MS continues to fall further behind. The reasons for our lack of progress are multifactorial. However, a significant portion of those wanting to do business with our state sees our present flag, our front door welcome mat, as a symbol that will eventually limit their business’s employee recruitment and profitability. We cannot continue to compete regionally or nationally with this burdensome yoke of racist symbolism on our necks. That is why almost every major economic organization in the state is asking that we furl our present flag. We cannot continue to feed our youngest and brightest to the “brain drain” that leeches the lifeblood of our future to competing states.

“Mississippi is great due to her loving, generous people. For those wanting to keep the present flag let us endeavor to seek out goodness and generosity in our hearts to allow all of her citizens to be proud of the place, they were born and raised. Let us endeavor to look atop our flagpoles and feel unity toward a common symbol of goodness and a direction toward better prosperity. As I noted before, for those wanting to furl the present flag, this is going to get messy. We must seek the good and not get distracted by our personal idea of perfection. In this case, my mother may have only been partially correct. Perfection may not only be the enemy of good, but also it may be the enemy to Mississippi’s greatness. Together, let us seek Mississippi’s greatness and change the flag.”

House Rep. Clay Deweese, District 12

District 12 House Rep. Clay Deweese who represents Oxford, also sent out a statement about his reasons for backing the plan to change the flag.

Here is his statement:

“On this Father’s Day, I want to take a moment to reflect on my blessings. I am blessed to be a father and I am blessed to be a Mississippian. I want for my children – and for every child in MS – what every father wants for his children – safety, health and happiness.

“I want to also reflect on what it means to grow up in MS. I want all of our children to be proud to call MS home; and I don’t want our state flag to serve as anything but a symbol of unity and pride. To ensure that, I believe it is time to retire our current state flag.

“I’ve come to this view, not because of the economic threats made toward MS in recent days but because I believe it is simply the right thing to do. Just as my father has taught me to always do the right thing, when my time in office is over, I want to be able to look at Rhett and Tison and let them know we did just that. Let’s move forward Mississippi.”

Staff report

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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