Well-known actors, authors, athletes and politicians of Mississippi wrote a letter published in a Mississippi newspaper on Aug. 17 calling for the removal of the Confederate symbol from the state flag.
Mississippi is the last Southern state to feature the Confederate symbol on its government property. After the shooting of nine African-Americans in South Carolina, allegedly by white supremacist Dylann Roof on June 17, other Southern states worked to eliminate the symbol or the Confederate flag from government grounds. For example, Texas legislators barred the symbol from appearing on license plates and Republican Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina publicly derided the symbol and asked for its removal.
“It is simply not fair, or honorable, to ask black Mississippians to attend schools, compete in athletic events, work in the public sector, serve in the National Guard, and go about their normal lives with a state flag that glorifies a war fought to keep their ancestors enslaved,” the letter in The Clarion-Ledger reads. “It’s time for Mississippi to fly a flag for all its people.”
Authoring the letter were actor Morgan Freeman, author John Grisham, NBA Hall of Fame inductee Bailey Howell, former NFL quaterback Archie Manning, former Mississippi Gov. William Winter and other prominent celebrities and figures, ESPN reported.
In 2001, state residents voted to keep the symbol and the state flag as is, which opponents of the change are using to justify their stance. Opponents of the change are citing the entertainment industry’s use of the Confederate flag as another reason why the state government should not remove it from the grounds.
“Rap and hip-hop artists use the (Confederate battle) flag so that kind of sucks the wind out of the ‘offensive’ argument,” Greg Stewart, the administrator of the Jefferson Davis home and Presidential Library, in Beavoir, Mississippi, said.