What will it take to end glorification of the confederacy?

Lafayette County Courthouse

If I really wanted to answer that question, I would say “critical scale.”  Critical scale is achieved when there are enough people who want the change, and are willing to do what it takes to achieve it.  In what is a small, but highly significant first step, yesterday the Mississippi state legislature voted to remove the confederate image from the state flag and design a new flag.  Given that the majority of the Senate (69%) and House (61%) are Republicans and white, that is pretty significant indeed.  Democrats make up 31% of the senate and 88% of them are black.  Democrats are more prevalent in the House, with 36%, and 81% of them are black.  There is also a larger number of women in the House than in the Senate–not surprising of course that the majority in both branches of the legislature are male.

Saturday was the vote to suspend the rules in order to make a decision about removing the confederate symbol from the state flag.  It passed both House and Senate, and the actual vote to take down the current flag with the confederate symbol prominently displayed  was Sunday afternoon.  The vote was 91-23 in the House in support of removing the flag, and 37-14 in the Senate.

Much of the support was based on the timing, economic decisions, athletic recruitment, business and tourism and in at least some of the rationale, because it is the right thing to do.  While the confederacy and its subsequent symbols (battle flag, monuments erected over 30 years later following the war) were representative of the southern rebellion against the Union in order to maintain slavery, they were during the horrendous atrocities of the Jim Crow era about maintaining and glorifying white supremacy.  There are more than plenty of speeches and articles in historic newspapers to disprove that it was about anything other than white supremacy.  (See for example, Making Place, Making Race: Performances of Whiteness in the Jim Crow South, Annals of the Associate of American Geographers, 93(3), 2003, and Mr. Scott Makes Splendid Speech, Vicksburg Herald, May 11, 1906).

It was gratifying to have the senator who represents my district respond to my email from the floor, stating she would vote yes, and to have her subsequently contact me afterwards to say it was good to tell me the vote to take it down was successful and thank me for contacting her.  It marks the first time in 17 years of being a registered voter in Mississippi where one of my representatives (all have been Republicans for whom I have not voted) has responded positively to my many contacts, voted in concert with my position, and not made some pablum excuse for why he had to vote his conscience and explain why I was wrong.  I even reached the point where I would follow up my request for action (always carefully researched and supported with facts) with a statement about “don’t send me another standard response about what you believe; answer the question I have asked.”  They never did.

PBS has a documentary coming out tonight on the increasing power of women of color in politics: And she could be next.  Visit the link to learn how to watch live streaming.  Turn the tide; vote women.  We get things done that are good for people.

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16 Responses to What will it take to end glorification of the confederacy?

  1. peggyjoan42 says:

    Glad to hear they are going to change the Mississippi flag. Very interesting article you have written here. I do agree – women get things done. I am a Republican, but am very disappointed in my party and I care nothing for Trump – I am hoping he does not get another 4 years in the white house. (I did not vote for Trump in the last election).

    • Suzassippi says:

      Thank you for your comments, PeggyJoan. I have to tell you about my 89 year old mother walking in to vote in 2016 Republican Primary. She yelled out, “I’m here to vote for Jeb Bush and keep Donald Trump from being president!” The woman at the table gasped in horror and said, “You can’t say that in here.” Mother said, “I can and I just did.” I believe they overlooked her “campaigning statement” inside the polls due to her age and infirmity. 🙂

      • peggyjoan42 says:

        Just because there is snow on the roof does not mean there is not fire in the furnace. Good for your mother – she sounds a lot like my mother use to be in her latter years. Old age does not make a person stupid. I know a lot of very intelligent older people that are very sharp and very smart.

      • Beth says:

        That is priceless – love it!

  2. Beth says:

    I said years ago the flag needed to be revised! The Confederacy died at Appomattox Courthouse long ago. The Lost Cause and Old South myth was invented and kept alive in the years following. It served the ladies of the Natchez Garden Club well and while I enjoy touring the old homes and learning about the stories I have always known there was much behind the story. While we must not forget or disregard history it is time to move on; let’s not dray the past with us. As Scarlett O’Hara says – tomorrow is another day. PS that is a great picture of the Courthouse!

    • Suzassippi says:

      Yes, you are absolutely right about the invention of the Lost Cause. If you want to read the 1906 speech where the speaker bluntly said the purpose was to preserve Anglo-Saxon rule, I will email it to you. I got it from the newspaper archives, and cannot do a link to it.

      That is the backside of the Lafayette Courthouse, without that pesky statue in front of it. First time I saw it, I wondered what black people thought when they read the inscriptions, and why any white person would revere it. But as some people here like to point out “you are not from Mississippi so you don’t understand.” I believe I understand it perfectly.

      • Beth says:

        Yes, please email it to me! Thanks. My brother put me on to a book Newton Knight and the Free State of Jones. He is researching our family tree and has strong reasons to believe that our ancestors were involved in the Confederacy resistance in Lafayette County, much like that in Jones County. The book discusses the Lost Cause movement and how it contributed to the Southern culture of the early 1900’s. Very interesting.

        • Suzassippi says:

          Okay, I will get it in the email. There was an item in the Oxford Eagle about a history professor at UM locating it, so I was able to track it down in the archives. I will be interested to hear about the Lafayette County information!

  3. socialbridge says:

    Great stuff, Suz. Well done you.

  4. janebye says:

    After a lifetime of seeing a little but not a lot being done, I feel hopeful that we might actually reach critical mass this time. It is encouraging to see changes in the south. I still recall living in GA as a small child and wondering why there were separate water fountains for whites and blacks.

    • Suzassippi says:

      I do see some changes here and there. I am not sure if it is surface lip service because it is expedient to do so right now, or if perhaps some people are learning things they did not understand before…or maybe a little of both. One of my favorite Dr. Martin Luke King, Jr.’s comments was: It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important also. As “enlightened” as I thought I was, being in Mississippi showed me how little I truly knew or understood.

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