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Controversy over state flag continues to divide students

Klaria Holmes, Staff Writer

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Since last year, the Mississippi state flag has been stirring up controversy. Buildings and schools around the state have removed the flag, while others have decided to keep it.

In a poll taken by thechargeronline.com, out of 153 people, 54% voted that the flag should be changed, while 46% voted the flag should stay the same.

Sophomore Peyton Moore thinks that taking the state flag away is taking away from Mississippi history.

“We should keep the flag because it is a big part of Mississippi history, and after all, it was a battle flag used by the side who fought for slavery,” Moore said.

The current Mississippi state flag has been around since 1894, and Moore believes the attention it is receiving now is not necessary.

“It was used during slavery, but that was just life back then,” Moore said. “No one has said anything about it ‘till now because they just want attention on themselves about what they think should be right.”

Freshman Patricia Hughes disagrees and believes the flag represents a racist time for the south and should be removed.

“I want to see the flag removed because while it is a representation of our history, it is also a symbol of our past. When our state fought in the civil war on the Confederate side, we had that flag and supported slavery,” Hughes said. “We live in Mississippi, the place of the Delta, the Cotton Kings, slavery, and the Confederate flag, but that is not who we are anymore, and the first way is to change the image that represents us.”

Hughes believes that regardless of the history the flag holds, political correctness should be more important.

“Some say we should keep the flag because we do not want to forget our heritage, but others think we should not keep it because that heritage is racist,” Hughes said. “I do not fully understand the reason for keeping the flag, but I think that political correctness trumps that.”

Freshman Stanton Spencer stands on the neutral side of the argument and thinks that the residents should have the choice instead.

“I believe that the state flag, along with other issues, should be voted upon by the residents of the state. If the majority of the people wish to keep the flag, then we should keep it. If a majority is neutral and the second most says do not keep it, then do not keep it. It is a simple way to solve most social issues by allowing people to have a say in matters they care about,” Spencer said.

United States History teacher John Mistilis thinks that the flag paints a negative picture of the state.

“That little corner of our state flag is detrimental in so many ways. It hurts people  in and out of our state emotionally. It cripples our state economically. It projects a negative image of our state. It divides us instead of unites us. It makes our state seem even more uneducated,” Mistilis said.

“Every time any institution in our state has distanced themselves from the negative images of our past, they have become more successful. I support things that make Mississippi successful. Hanging on to a corner of a flag that even one person feels uncomfortable with is an ignorant idea that costs Mississippi immeasurable harm.”

Mistilis believes the flag is a symbol of the ignorance of certain groups of people in Mississippi.

“Too many people are hanging on to what they seem to think is their ‘heritage.’ I have a relative who is buried in a Confederate prisoner of war cemetery in Illinois. That does not make me want to fly a Confederate flag on the back of my truck,” Mistilis said. “The Constitution of the United States protects each individual citizen’s rights and a person can fly whatever flag they want, but that is completely different from a flag that is supposed to represent all of the citizens of a state or nation.”

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Controversy over state flag continues to divide students