FLOYD INGRAM: Let’s rally around the flagBy FLOYD INGRAM / THE PRESS REGISTER,
I’m going to lose friends today for at least ten things I’m about to say in this column.
You see, I attended Mississippi State University and I never really liked the Confederate Battle Flag.
That’s the first one.
Sure I grew up loving the history and great battles of Archie Manning, John Vaught and a day and age when those Rebels taught the rest of the U.S. of A not to mess with Southern boys.
But those days are gone. I grew up, was blessed with four fine boys, and I had to make sure they didn’t go to college at TSUN.
That’s the second one.
What do you worship?
I’m Baptist (that’s Number 3).
So it was no surprise to me to see the Mississippi Baptist Convention, a fine group of conservative, predominately white folk representing 500,000 people and more than 2,000 churches, come out with a statement regarding Mississippi’s flag.
“While some may see the current flag as a celebration of heritage, a significant portion of our state sees it as a relic of racism and a symbol of hatred,” the MBC statement said. “The racial overtones of this flag’s appearance make this discussion a moral issue.”
I hope all Mississippians will look at their heart and realize this is a moral issue (Number 4).
Now let me tell you how Baptist churches work. We hold conventions every year for two weeks and come up with all kinds of strange and controversial ideas that often embarrass most people and certainly Southern Baptist, (that’s Number 5) but then the convention adjourns and we head back to our churches across this state and country to live our lives and worship our God with an immense degree of autonomy.
I have people ask me all the time if I am Republican or Democrat and I quietly lean in and say, “I’m worse than that, I’m Southern Baptist.”
Yes, that is Number 6.
Make the right choice
I grew up in a military family where I learned to properly salute a flag before I knew much about this country, its history or all the different people who live within our borders.
As I grew up I learned those differences often divide, but that flags are supposed to unite.
It is evident to me that Mississippi’s flag in its present form no longer unites us and it should change.
And yes, that is a big Number 7.
I have repeatedly heard economic development leaders at the state and local level say Missisippi’s flag is a hindrance to bringing jobs and industry to this state.
I have heard University of Mississippi coaches and recruiters say the battle flag hindered bringing better athletes to campus.
I have heard my African American friends and neighbors say the symbol offends them.
What will White folk do?
Please look at the photo. I am White. And this issue is on us (For those keeping count, that’s Number 8).
We have had two decades of debate over the Mississippi Flag and nothing has changed.
Having said that, it is obvious Mississippi is being pushed, elbowed and forced into seriously considering a new flag. And when someone is boxed in, that’s when they tend to lash out, fight back and resist. And that’s why I say it’s hard to see the flag changing soon.
White legislators apparently fear that voting for a new flag would put their jobs in jeopardy in two years. Otherwise they would have made the move long ago. (Editor’s Note: Politicians don’t care what you say as long as you vote for them, so that one doesn’t count.)
As most people do when fighting a lost cause, lawmakers and White people who support the current flag will hunker down, mutter racist things under their breath and hope this will blow over (Number 9).
This week’s news indicates more leaders in Mississippi are coming around to the idea of a new flag. Please remember Mississippi is the state that said it would never change on racial issues. Please also remember our state moves slowly, so this is progress.
So let’s call on our better angels. Let’s do this and move on. Let’s rally around a flag that can lead this state forward.
Floyd Ingram is the Editor of your Clarksdale Press Register. He cares about what his community thinks but doesn’t cotton to any group or individual when they are wrong. (That’s Number 10!)