JACKSON, Miss. – The Southeast Conference is considering limiting league championship events in Mississippi unless the state changes its Confederate-based flag.
“It’s past time to make changes to the flag of the Mississippi Province,” Commissioner Greg Sankey said on Thursday. “Our students deserve the opportunity to learn and compete in an inclusive and welcoming environment. In the absence of changes, the Southeast Conference championship events will not be allowed in the Mississippi State until the flag is changed. “
NCAA has already said it will not schedule post-season events at Mississippi due to the state flag.
National protests about racial injustice renewed the debate on the Confederation symbols. Mississippi has the last state flag with the war emblem: a red area on top of a blue X with 13 white stars. White supremacists put the symbol on the flag in 1894 during the reaction of the political power that developed during the Reconstruction.
During the Black Lives Matter protest in front of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion in Jackson city center on June 5, thousands of people called for the removal of all Confederation symbols in the state, including the flag, by an 18-year-old organizer, Maisie Brown.
State parliamentarians’ bipartisan coalitions are trying to gain momentum to change the flag, but Republican Government Tate Reeves has repeatedly said that if the banner is to be redesigned, it must be done by the state’s voters.
People who voted in the 2001 elections chose to replace the flag with a design that did not include the Confederation emblem.
All public universities of Mississippi have made the state flag fly in recent years due to several city and county emblems. The state has two SEC schools – Mississippi University and Mississippi State University.
The leaders at both universities said on Thursday that the state should change the flag.
Ole Miss Chancellor Glenn Boyce and athletic director Keith Carter said in a joint statement that Mississippi needs a flag that represents the qualities that unite us about our state, not to divide us. “We support the position of changing SEC’s Mississippi state flag to a more inviting and inclusive image for all people.”
Mississippi President Mark E. Keenum said that he respects Sankey’s attitude. Keenum said that he wrote to the elected officials on June 12, saying that university students, faculty and administrators have registered in favor of changing the flag since 2015.
“The letter said that our flag should be unifying, not a symbol that divides us,” said Keenum. “I emphasized that it is time for a renewed, respectful discussion on this issue.”
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