In October 2015, the University of Southern Miss lowered the state flag. The response followed the mass shooting of black worshipers at a South Carolina church by white supremacist Dylann Roof.
Ever since USM took the state flag down, a group of flag supporters has gathered on campus every Sunday to protest the university’s decision. This Sunday, however, they were met with counter-protesters.
The peaceful encounter lasted several hours with both sides keeping calm. Renewed efforts to change the state flag have blossomed after deadly protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, August 12.
Some flag supporters fear history will be erased if the banner is changed. Others hearken to a romantic heritage of pride, strength and beauty.
Those who want to see the flag change say the Confederate battle emblem is a blight on the state that symbolizes a reluctance to speak openly about race relations and the past.
Mounting pressure on state leaders has led many, including Governor Phil Bryant, to echo the decision of the 2001 special referendum in which Mississippi residents voted nearly 2-1 to keep the current flag design.
Today, all of Mississippi’s public universities refuse to fly the flag, as do many businesses, cities, and municipalities.