The Most Significant Confederate Flag Removal Since Charleston

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.

Northern High Schools Confront Their Confederate Past

Like many of you I have been following the growing number of public schools that have had to respond to students bringing Confederate flags onto school grounds. This is taking place throughout the country and not just in the South. I’ve read stories of schools as far north as New Hampshire and Minnesota that are currently dealing with this issue. Even more interesting are those Northern schools with deeper ties to Confederate heritage that go back to the 1960s. In my latest column at The Daily Beast I briefly explore two of those schools, one in Walpole, Massachusetts and the other in South Burlington, Vermont. Continue reading “Northern High Schools Confront Their Confederate Past”

Ole Miss Student Senate Votes to Remove State Flag

Just when you thought the wave of reports about Confederate flag removals had crested, we get hit by another one. Last week Florida’s state senate voted to remove the Confederate from its official seal. In Greene County, Tennessee a county commissioner proposed raising a Confederate flag in front of the courthouse, which was overwhelmingly voted down. Maryland will likely join Virginia in banning the Confederate flag from license plates. And among the “Heritage, Not Hate” crowd fifteen members of a group calling itself, “Respect the Flag” were indicted on terrorism charges following an incident that took place in Georgia over the summer. Continue reading “Ole Miss Student Senate Votes to Remove State Flag”

Sons of Confederate Veterans Confirm What We Knew All Along

The Georgia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans has issued a statement in response to plans to erect a monument to Martin Luther King, Jr. atop Stone Mountain. As you might suspect, they are not pleased. Their statement is couched in some history of the site as well as their legal reading that supposedly prevents the erection of additional monuments on the landscape. The SCV has had little success with legal cases in the past, so I don’t put much stock in their reasoning. More interesting, however, are their concerns about how a monument to King alters the meaning of the site. Continue reading “Sons of Confederate Veterans Confirm What We Knew All Along”

MLK Soon To Top Stone Mountain

Update: Thanks to those of you who pointed out my rookie mistake re: “the mountain top” reference in King’s speech. I guess it doesn’t really matter what speech of his they etch into that monument.

Over the summer, individuals and organizations protesting the removal of Confederate flags from public places gathered numerous times at Stone Mountain, Georgia in view of its relief monument to Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis. Protesters may think twice about doing so in the future since it was announced that a monument to Martin Luther King, Jr. and a museum exhibit about the service of United States Colored Troops will be funded with visitor entrance and parking fees. Continue reading “MLK Soon To Top Stone Mountain”