Mississippi is the last remaining state which incorporates the Confederate flag into its state flag design. On April 17, 2001, in a special referendum, Mississippians voted to keep the state flag which had been adopted as the state flag in 1894. The vote was 64.39% in favor of keeping the flag; 35.61% opposed.
Many prominent state politicians voted to change the flag, and urged those of us less enlightened to also do so, citing the need for a flag which 'unifies' all Mississippians. I believe these politicians were quite surprised that so many of us voted against their wishes. Why did we disappoint them?
There are several reasons. First, there are quite a few of us who prefer to do our own thinking about any given subject. Just because a man goes off to school at Yale or Harvard or Princeton, and comes back to Mississippi with a new, progressive way of thinking about the South, and Mississippi in particular, doesn't mean we're going to agree with him. Just because our public and private school history teachers stood at the front of the classroom and bloviated (and still bloviate, unfortunately) about how the great Abraham Lincoln's United States military invaded and destroyed the Confederate States of America to abolish slavery, doesn't mean they were and are currently telling the truth. Many of us have researched this subject, and read extensively, and have arrived at a starkly different conclusion. Just because the state's flagship newspaper, Jackson's Clarion-Ledger, owned by the Confederacy-hating Gannett Corporation, published editorials pushing the flag change (and still does) , didn't mean we had to kowtow to their opinion.
While we have kept the flag for now, I won't be so smug, or naive to believe that it will always survive. None of the three major public universities in Mississippi (Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and the University of Southern Mississippi) currently fly the state flag on university grounds. Several towns in Mississippi have ceased flying the flag on public property. It angers and saddens me greatly to go into a so-called Christian school in Mississippi, and see images of Abe Lincoln on the walls of the classrooms, colored with crayons, and taped there by impressionable young children; images of the man who inflicted an unimaginable degree of death and destruction on the people of the South.
If a referendum on changing or keeping the state flag were to be held six months from now, I'm not sure what the result would be. When one of the U.S. Senators from Mississippi (Roger Wicker, Republican) is quoted as saying 'the Mississippi state flag belongs in a museum,' minds may have been indoctrinated with so many lies that the vote would possibly be to change our flag. However, drive into many rural areas of our state, and one will see many Mississippi and Confederate flags flying next to homes and barns. Many of us still honor the men who bravely fought and died resisting Washington, DC's brutal, vicious invasion and occupation of our beloved South. We still honor the men who fought to resist Abraham Lincoln's tyranny. Even if the 'smart people' in Mississippi eventually decide to make the change, there are many of us who will keep flying the flag on our private property.
In Dixie land I'll take my stand.
Anthony Powell is an unreconstructed Southerner, a married, home-schooling father of seven, four of whom are still at home. He and his wife own a screen-printing business. He is a life-long resident of rural Wayne County, Mississippi, who has lived on the same 20 acres his entire life. In his spare time, he hunts, fishes, enjoys Scrabble with his children, and plays bluegrass music.