Tomorrow the Associated Student Body of the University of Mississippi will vote on a resolution that, if approved, would ask the university to remove the Mississippi state flag from campus grounds due to its “[incorporation of] the Confederate battle flag in its design.”
Drafted by student senator and College Democrats president Allen Coon and sponsored by a variety of campus organizations, the resolution contends that the flag, which bears the Confederate battle flag in the upper-left corner, “undermines efforts to promote diversity and create a safe, tolerant academic environment for all students,” and that its removal would “advance the university’s efforts to create an inclusive space for all students.” The resolution needs to achieve a majority in the 50-seat student senate to pass, and as of press time, supporters believe they’re just five votes short.
The flag currently flies atop a 30-foot pole in an area in the middle of campus known as “the Circle.” On Friday, the resolution’s co-sponsors held a rally there in an effort to pressure student senators who are on the fence. More than 200 students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered in support of the resolution. They were met with a counter-rally of about a dozen or so members of the Arkansas-based Ku Klux Klan group the International Keystone Knights, as well as members from the League of the South, a notorious Dixie hate group. The groups came not only to defend the Confederate battle flag but to inflame racial tensions, proclaiming “black lives don’t matter” and expressing a desire to re-segregate the South. Notably, no University of Mississippi students participated in the counter-rally.
“If you’re supporting this flag, you’re also supportive of some of the ideologies from these hate groups,” said senior Buka C. Okoye, a public policy major and president of the university’s chapter of the NAACP. “Which side are you on?”
The fight to remove the state flag from the University of Mississippi is only the latest manifestation of a statewide effort against the Confederate battle flag. City officials in Oxford, the college town home to the University of Mississippi’s flagship institution, recently voted to stop flying the flag on public grounds, as did officials in the city of Greenwood. Last week, hundreds of protesters marched through the streets of Jackson, the state capitol, in support of a ballot initiative that seeks to remove the Confederate iconography from the state flag as early as 2018.