Jimmy Buffet, John Grisham and Morgan Freeman are among many famous current and former Mississippi residents asking the state to remove the rebel Confederate battle emblem from its flag.
The famed musician, author and actor joined others in signing a letter that appeared in a full-page ad in Saturday’s edition of The Clarion-Ledger.
”It is simply not fair, or honorable, to ask black Mississippians to attend schools, compete in athletic events, work in the public sector, serve in the National Guard, and go about their normal lives with a state flag that glorifies a war fought to keep their ancestors enslaved,” the newspaper quoted the letter as saying. ”It’s time for Mississippi to fly a flag for all its people.”
Others who signed the letter include Kathryn Stockett, author of ”The Help,” a novel about African-American maids working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi.
State governments and businesses around the U.S. have removed Confederate symbols since Dylann Roof was accused in June of killing nine black church members in Charleston, South Carolina. Roof appeared in photos with the Confederate flag. Following a contentious and emotional debate, lawmakers in South Carolina agreed to remove the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the Statehouse. It was taken down last month.
A number of prominent Mississippians – including the great-great-grandson of Confederate President Jefferson Davis – already had said they believed it was time to retire the Confederate symbol from Mississippi’s flag. The Confederate battle flag was carried by forces supporting the secessionist, pro-slavery southern states in the 1861-85 American Civil War.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said voters made their views clear in 2001, when 64 percent rejected a proposal to change the state flag to 20 white stars on a blue field.