The Mississippi state flag will not fly at the Democratic National Convention.
It was removed from its posts inside and outside the arena, as the Mississippi Democratic delegation and protesters agreed that it was offensive. The flag features the stars and bars symbol of the Confederacy in the upper left corner of the rectangular flag that also has three stripes — one red, one white and one blue.
Vallena Greer, a Democratic delegate from Mississippi, told the Washington Examiner she saw the flag on the Mississippi delegation’s post inside the convention hall and immediately took it down.
“I just lost it. I snatched it, I threw it under the seat,” Greer said. “I didn’t want to see it, nobody else from Mississippi wanted to see that.”
“Although that is the original and certified flag for Mississippi, representing Mississippi, we are not happy with it in Mississippi. We have been protesting for them to change the flag, but we have been totally ignored.”
Outside the arena, protesters forced the Mississippi flag down on a street in downtown Philadelphia, where it waved alongside other states’ flags for two weeks. Earlier this week, some protesters reportedly participating in a march supporting Bernie Sanders blocked the roadway and got the flag taken down by city workers.
But the Mississippi Democrats and other protesters have had less success at removing the stars and bars emblem from the Magnolia State’s flag at home. Rep. Bennie Thompson, Mississippi’s only Democratic congressman, said despite his efforts he doubts the flag will be changed, replaced, or removed until the economic disincentives prove too costly.
“It’s a movement and the more companies and conventions talk about not coming to our state and it starts hurting the pocketbook of our state. It’ll lead,” Thompson said. “That flag no longer represents heritage to a lot of us it’s hate, it’s slavery, it’s something we need to put in a museum and get it out of the way.”
Whether Mississippians follow the example of South Carolina, which removed a Confederate flag — not the state’s flag — from flying over the state capitol’s grounds last year, remains to be seen. In South Carolina, the flag’s removal was accomplished with the help of Republican Gov. Nikki Haley. Mississippi’s two Republican U.S. senators have denounced their state’s flag because of the Confederate symbol.
If the flag does change, one reason why may be the flag’s impact on Mississippi’s ability to recruit top-tier athletes to its colleges and universities. Thompson said colleges have expressed concern that the flag is preventing some athletes from coming to Mississippi, and he wrote a letter to the NCAA involving the flag’s deleterious effect. One institution, the University of Mississippi, has even urged university officials to use discretion when referring to the school by its nickname, “Ole Miss,” because of fears that some find the slang term offensive and racially charged.
Mississippi’s Democrats, however, have a long way to change whether the flag is flown outside of Philadelphia. Amendments to the state’s constitution and other remedies to alter the flag, have thus far been unsuccessful.
“With all the problems that we’ve had with the police and the blacks, and the blacks on police or whatever, we really don’t need that flag,” Greer said. “We really don’t need it, but it seems to be falling on deaf ears.”
She continued, “But I don’t have to tolerate that flag, and I’m not going to.”