Ole Miss has voted to remove the Mississippi state flag from its campus in Oxford, as the flag bears the Confederate battle emblem.
On Monday morning, the flag was lowered by campus police during a flag lowering ceremony. The flag will be stored in the university archives, along with the vast number of letters from student, faculty and other staff members calling for the flag to be removed.
“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,” Interim Chancellor Morris Stocks stated. “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.”
The university is just one of several southern institutions to remove and distance itself from the Confederate flag. Those opposed to the flag say that it is an aged symbol of slavery, segregation, and hatred. Those who support the flag argue that it represents culture and pride. A common argument in support of the Confederate flag being that it is about “heritage, not hate.”
Stocks said that the decision to remove the state flag from campus was not an easy one. The flag is the state’s emblem, representing “tradition and honor to some.” Ultimately, the decision came because though it is a meaningful symbol to some students, faculty and alumni, to others it is an alienating symbol.
Stocks is just one of many prominent voices urging the state to adopt a new flag. Mississippi’s state flag was adopted in 1894. State voters opted to keep the state flag when voting on the issue during a 2001 election.
The most recent opposition to the Mississippi state flag comes after a gunman opened fire in a historically black church this summer in Charleston, South Carolina. Following the shooting, it was revealed that the gunman, Dylann Roof, was a racist and was seen holding a Confederate battle flag in several old photos.
Following the shooting, several cities and counties within Mississippi have chosen to remove the state flag. The three historically black colleges in the state opted to remove the flag earlier. Mississippi’s only black congressman, Bennie Thompson, does not have the state flag in his offices because of the Confederate emblem.
The issues surrounding the Mississippi state flag have become huge in this election year and is an issue dividing many. Voters will have to wait and see what happens following the election on November 3.