Hundreds gathered in Jackson, Mississippi, to protest the state flag on Oct. 11. The rally participants demanded that the state remove the Confederate symbol from its flag, since many view the southern insignia as a symbol of racism.
Roughly 400 people joined the rally on Oct. 11 to protest the Confederate symbol, with three men holding Confederate flags in opposition to the protest, Al Jazeera America reports. Since 1894, a portion of the Mississippi flag features the infamous stars and bars.
Following the June mass shooting of at a North Carolina church, the confederate symbol has come under heavy scrutiny, Fox News reports. Dylann Roof, the gunman who killed nine African Americans, was a white supremacist who casually wore the Civil War symbol. South Carolina has since removed the flag from their Statehouse.
"It is a new South,” Republican state Rep. Jenny Horne of South Carolina said on Oct. 11, according to Al Jazeera. “The economic development opportunities that Mississippi is missing out on — you don't even know it, but it's costing all citizens jobs.”
Mississippi is one of the poorest U.S. states with a population of only 2.9 million. Thirty-eight percent of Mississippi residents are black.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi have been reluctant to discuss changing the state flag, claiming that it should be up to the voters.
A proposal that would allow state voters to decide the flag’s fate was filed on Oct. 2, the Associated Press reported. However, the earliest that the proposal can find its way onto a ballot would be in 2018. State residents were given the chance to alter the flag in 2001 but voted no.
There are many Mississippi residents who do not want to see the flag changed. Many argue that the Confederate symbol honors the service of fallen Civil War soldiers.
David Sansing, a University of Mississippi history professor, told The Washington Post in August that critics of the flag will not get their way, even if it alienates the state from the rest of the country.
“We don’t really need you to like us," he said.