Today, the Mississippi Economic Council (MEC) is releasing polling data from a recent survey showing for the first time a majority of Mississippians favor changing the state flag. In 18 months, Mississippi voters have had a historic shift in opinion on changing the state flag, from unfavorable in 2019 (54-43) to favorable (55-41) last week.
The MEC says the data supports their call for the Legislature to act this week and vote to do what a majority of Mississippians think should be done – change the flag now.
The poll was performed June 16-18, 2020, by the Tarrance Group, a nationally recognized firm with extensive experience in Mississippi. The results reveal the significant change in public opinion from a year ago.
An overwhelming majority (72 percent) of those Mississippians polled favor a change to the state seal flag, which bears our national motto, “In God We Trust.” The state seal flag also enjoys the support of a majority of both white and black Mississippians.
“In the nearly 20 years we have held the position of changing the state flag, we have never seen voters so much in favor of change,” said Scott Waller, President of MEC. “These recent polling numbers show what people believe, and that the time has come for us to have a new flag that serves as a unifying symbol for our entire state.
“The Mississippi Legislature is poised to do the right thing this week, and we wholeheartedly support their efforts” Waller continued. “As we seek to recover from crippling economic losses from COVID-19, we must show Mississippi is open for business to everyone – and no person should feel left out. Our state flag must be the flag for all of our people, and I cannot think of a better change for our state than to include the national motto ‘In God We Trust,’ which was also recently added to our state’s seal.”
MEC will continue to advocate for changing the state flag and will also release a memo from the
Tarrance Group further detailing the findings from this recent poll.
Library association asks lawmakers to change flag
Mississippi Libraries provide services to a diverse mix of patrons who range from students to community members, attorneys and doctors to the homeless and unemployed, toddlers to the elderly, and many more. Mississippi libraries are committed to these patrons no matter who they are, where they come from, or what they believe. As an Association, we are united in our mission of enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all.
The current Mississippi flag, adopted by the Legislature in 1894 and voted on by the people nearly twenty years ago, does not unite and represent all of our patrons today. The flag and its history and symbolism represent a time when racism prevailed and when learning and access to information was not available to all. As such, it should be taken down in favor of a more inclusive flag that will truly represent the diverse patrons that we serve.
Therefore, the Mississippi Library Association Board asks that state legislators do the right thing for all Mississippi citizens and vote to take down the state flag. We ask all of our association members to reach out to their state legislators to voice their support for removing the flag and replacing it with one that represents us all.
Lt. Gov. Hosemann: Change is needed
The below is attributable to Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann:
“I rise before you today to discuss the flag of our State.
This discussion is not prompted by fear of loss of economic development, although virtually every economic developer in our State has indicated opportunities and employment of our citizens will be adversely affected. Further, it is not prompted by the impending loss of student athletes’ ability to compete for championships, although that has occurred. Further, I recognize many of our citizens are proud of their individual ancestors, some of whom fought in battle 150 years ago. I am one of those citizens.
While important, these issues are not controlling.
What is compelling to me is the future of our children and grandchildren. They will learn together, they will work together, and they will worship together. Those who wish to fly our flag should not be typecast in any fashion. Similarly, those who are offended by our flag are sincere in their beliefs. The physical acknowledgements of our history are our guideposts and buoys which helps us to avoid reefs in the future. Destruction of history fails to change it and, over time, opens us to repeat it.
However, now we must look to a flag for our collective future to be flown over our collective assets. I, like the majority of Mississippians, am open to changing our current flag.
In my mind, our flag should bear the Seal of the Great State of Mississippi and state “In God We Trust.” I am open to bringing all citizens together to determine a banner for our future.
Some distrust the will of the citizens and fear the public dialogue which comes with a ballot. I am not one of those people. Changes in our hearts and minds arise from conversation, and in our Republic by the finality of the ballot box.
However, the Legislature in 1894 selected the current flag and the Legislature should address it today. Failing to do so only harms us and postpones the inevitable.”
State press association pushes for change
The state’s newspaper media association is joining with other trade groups and business and religious leaders in calling for a change to the Mississippi flag.
Leadership of the Mississippi Press Association said change is needed now to adopt a new banner that represents people of all races and ethnicities who call the state home.
“We believe the state flag should be one that speaks for all people of Mississippi today and in the future,” said MPA President Kevin Cooper. “We recognize the imagery of the current state flag is hurtful to a large number of our fellow citizens, and, for that reason, we call on the Mississippi legislature to enact change.”
“We consider MPA an apolitical organization, but we feel this is a significant moment in our state’s history and calls on us to speak out,” said MPA Executive Director Layne Bruce. “We urge lawmakers to act upon it and help ensure a future that is respectful and inclusive to all in this state.”
As one of the Mississippi’s oldest trade or professional associations, MPA represents over 100 print newspaper and digital media organizations in the state.