Miss. lawmaker calls for Confederate emblem to be removed from state flag

JACKSON, Miss. (MEDIA GENERAL) – The Republican Speaker of Mississippi’s House of Representatives has called for the Confederate emblem to be removed from the state flag’s design.

On the heels of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s speech calling for the Confederate flag to be removed from state grounds, Philip Gunn has made a similar plea.

“We must always remember our past, but that does not mean we must let it define us,” Gunn wrote on Facebook on Monday, June 22, 2015. “As a Christian, I believe our state’s flag has become a point of offense that needs to be removed. We need to begin having conversations about changing Mississippi’s flag.”

The debate surrounding the Confederate flag has been reignited after Wednesday’s shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, that left nine black parishioners dead at the hands of a proclaimed white supremacist. After Dylann Roof was captured Thursday, photos emerged of Roof posing with the Confederate battle flag and holding his firearm.

The Confederate flag debate is nothing new for Mississippians. In 2001, voters were asked to choose between two versions of the state flag: One including the Confederate stars and bars, and one without. Voters chose to keep the Confederate emblem by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.

The debate surrounding the Confederate flag

The flag is central to a long-running debate about southern heritage. Many people hold the flag to resemble their ancestors and the history of southern states, especially serving in the Civil War.

“We want to remember those men. They are family members, there are pictures on our walls, their names are in our Bibles. They’re a part of us, their DNA is in us,” Randy Burbage of the Sons of Confederate Veterans told CBS News.

While many others cannot separate the flag that also stood as an icon against civil rights and in support of slavery. The Confederate flag was adopted by several white supremacist groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, who have used the symbol to spread its racist ideals.

According to NAACP president Cornell Brooks, the Confederate flag is a symbol of hate and a symbol that divides Americans.

“The flag has to come down,” Brooks said Friday during a news conference. “We say this not because we’re trying to sow division, but rather because we’re trying to sow unity – a unity of purpose, a unity of commitment, a unity of resolve – so that we confront the racism in our midst. And that means, certainly symbolically, we cannot have the Confederate flag waving in the state capitol.”

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