Actor Morgan Freeman, quarterback Archie Manning, author John Grisham, and The Help author Kathryn Stockett were among a number of notable Mississippians who called for the removal of the Confederate emblem from Mississippi's state flag in a full-page letter in the Clarion-Ledger, according to USA Today. The push to change the flag is the most recent development in conversations about the Confederate symbol since photographs of Dylann Roof, the man who allegedly killed nine black people in a racially-motivated shooting, showed him posing with it and other racist flags. What would the new state flag look like if Mississippi actually does change it? The state has already received a few design ideas.
The famous writers and actors who wrote to the Clarion-Ledger aren't the only well-known people to call for the flag to change. House Speaker Philip Gunn, Mississippi's Southeastern Conference football coaches (that's when you know it's really a big deal), and the great-great-grandson of Confederate President Jefferson Davis have all called for a change. Unfortunately, Mississippi has had these conversations before. In 2000, the state's Supreme Court found that the flag had been repealed on a technicality in 1906, so the governor appointed a 17-member commission to design a new flag. The new flag featured the same red, white, and blue stripes, but instead of the Confederate emblem, it featured a circle of 20 stars to represent that Mississippi was the 20th state admitted to the Union.
The state put the above flag to a ballot referendum vote, but 64 percent of the state chose to keep the original flag. At the time, the state was two-thirds white and one-third black. In the event of a change, it's unclear whether the state would default to this design again or accept submissions. For example, in July, the Jackson Free Press called for designs from readers around the state, and has since amassed an entire gallery full of alternative designs in the past two months with the hashtag #MSFlagDIY.
And of course, some people took the designing a little less seriously after Morgan Freeman voiced his call for the change:
The letter from famous Mississippians emphasizes that other states have removed the Confederate flag from their statehouses after the tragic shooting in Charleston. Mississippi is the last state to still fly the emblem over its statehouse.
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. It's time for Mississippi to fly a flag for all its people.