This morning the University of Mississippi’s campus police took down the state flag. It will be moved, along with petitions for its removal by students and faculty, to the university’s archive. This comes after both students and faculty voted overwhelmingly that the presence of the Confederate battle flag (even on the state flag) has no place on campus.
Interim Chancellor Morris Stocks first joined other state and university leaders calling for a change in the state flag in a statement last June. “The University of Mississippi community came to the realization years ago that the Confederate battle flag did not represent many of our core values, such as civility and respect for others,” Stocks said. “Since that time, we have become a stronger and better university. We join other leaders in our state who are calling for a change in the state flag.”
Stocks noted that the decision to no longer fly the state flag was not an easy one, adding that the flag means different things to different people. “As Mississippi’s flagship university, we have a deep love and respect for our state,” Morris said. “Because the flag remains Mississippi’s official banner, this was a hard decision. I understand the flag represents tradition and honor to some. But to others, the flag means that some members of the Ole Miss family are not welcomed or valued. That is why the university faculty, staff and leadership have united behind this student-led initiative.”
Stocks noted that other public universities and local governments have already taken this step, and he continues to encourage state leaders to create a new flag. “Mississippi and its people are known far and wide for hospitality and a warm and welcoming culture. But our state flag does not communicate those values,” Stocks said. “Our state needs a flag that speaks to who we are. It should represent the wonderful attributes about our state that unite us, not those that still divide us.”
Whether this decision by Mississippi’s flagship university has any impact on the broader discussion about the state flag has yet to be seen, but this is a significant step for Ole Miss and one that the community can take pride in. It’s significant because it offers us some sense of the direction that the next generation of Mississippians will go in dealing with their Confederate past.