Restricted Who defines "Southern Heritage?"

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2001 Flag Vote
Current flag- 494,323 (64.39%)
New flag- 273,359 (35.61%)

You have to go back nearly 50 years to find a vote that lopsided in Mississippi.
FYI:

Public opinion of the Mississippi state flag — the last in the nation containing the Confederate battle emblem — is shifting, according to a poll conducted last month.​
A September survey of Mississippi voters by Jackson-based, Democratic-leaning polling firm Chism Strategies shows that just 49 percent of Mississippians favor the current state flag while 41 percent want to retire it and 10 percent are undecided about the issue.​
The percentage of Mississippians who told pollsters they support the flag is down from the 2001 flag referendum vote total, when 64 percent of voters affirmed the current state flag design. That same year, 36 percent of voters favored a new, specific flag design — one that critics at the time said was a political stunt to sway voters from voting against the current design.​
===

In 2000, 61.4% of the population of Mississippi was white, while 36.3% was of African descent. Although I do not have ready access to sources, I have heard more than once that black voter turnout can be depressed in certain places where black voters feel their vote won't make difference because they will be out-voted by whites. I'll have to research that.

I opened the thread with the story of how, in 2000, two bridges in Richmond, VA, were renamed from Civil War (Confederate) figures to Civil Rights activists by the City Council. That would have been unthinkable decades earlier. But changes in the demographics and politics of the city made for a change that was, in retrospect, as fundamental as it was astounding. In his book, Brudage makes a comment that Capt Obvious would no doubt agree with: "Because power is central to the propagation of a version of history, changes in the relative power that groups enjoy invariably has consequences for what and how they remember." That continues to play out in the South, as in the world.

The poll numbers above indicate that even MS might be changing in its views on this subject. Other states have had a Confederate flag represented in the state flag. Mississippi is the last holdout. We'll see what happens. My own guess is that the flag will change, and I might be alive to see that happen. We'll see. MS being MS, I wouldn't bet on this in Las Vegas, but as they say, stranger things have happened.

- Alan
 

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It would seem a 2001 vote would be more relevant to today then a 1894 one...…...and what Mississippians consider heritage today

It would seem to go the OP's question of who. The people of today would be who, not 1865, 1900, or 1960, but the people of the state's today who determine the current definition of their state or regional heritige.

It always strikes me odd these elaborate arguments of the view of history is always changing , so the traditional views should be challenged or even removed.........until polls or votes show that nationally or state wide the majority view hasn't changed and is still actually in favor of the status quo.........then the currently accepted view apparently means squat to some.
History does not change. The way it is taught changes, and the way that historical events, places, and people are represented in the public square and elsewhere changes.

I made the point above that in his book, Brudage makes a comment that Capt Obvious would no doubt agree with: "Because power is central to the propagation of a version of history, changes in the relative power that groups enjoy invariably has consequences for what and how they remember." That continues to play out in the South, as in the world.

When people have power, they have new options. Those new possibilities lead to new and different choices, including changes in what they will or will not do, and what they will or not accept. This is not new to the South, it is the way of the world.

It may seem like people are changing their views, and going against "the traditional." But actually, they are doing what they might have done earlier, if they had power. The thing is, many people assume that choices which resulted from acquiescence and submission to power were assent or consent. They weren't.

I am reminded that during the antebellum era, there was a widespread belief that enslaved people were happy and content with being in bondage. And that many slave owners were surprised when enslaved people used the war to flee their masters, and even fight for the Union and against their master's armies. It wasn't that enslaved people all of a sudden took a view of bondage that was "untraditional." Rather, slaves acted on desires they always had, but could never openly express, until the war offered them a chance for freedom. I would guess that not only were slaveholders shocked, but also many slaves shocked themselves...

- Alan
 

archieclement

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The overwhelming majority I've seen, & been to, were not only privately funded but, were/are monuments to the Confederate Dead, & or Confederate Soldiers. Plenty of folks donated what they could, in an effort to memorialize their loved ones who never returned from the war. Thousands of families never had a body to bury. Their Husbands/Sons/Brothers left to rot in some mass grave somewhere.

To many folks, these monuments brought them peace. Much like a tombstone, or final resting place for a loved one often does.
That is the point of most memorials, to remember the fallen. It would strike me odd if there weren't memorials to one of the bloodiest periods of our history, not that there is. Or that they are remembered through heritige.

It isn't some archaic practice, whether 9/11 or Katrina, people still erect memorials to honor the dead or fallen of a community. Frankly it doesn't have to be a war at all, but any tragic event in history that resulted in a large number of deaths. Though it seems most communities have elected to memorialize those who fell or served from the community in about every major conflict in our history, not sure why one would think the ACW would be any different.
 
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In 2000, 61.4% of the population of Mississippi was white, while 36.3% was of African descent. Although I do not have ready access to sources, I have heard more than once that black voter turnout can be depressed in certain places where black voters feel their vote won't make difference because they will be out-voted by whites. I'll have to research that.
Probably how White voters feel in Detroit, or even Wash D.C.

I opened the thread with the story of how, in 2000, two bridges in Richmond, VA, were renamed from Civil War (Confederate) figures to Civil Rights activists by the City Council. That would have been unthinkable decades earlier. But changes in the demographics and politics of the city made for a change that was, in retrospect, as fundamental as it was astounding. In his book, Brudage makes a comment that Capt Obvious would no doubt agree with: "Because power is central to the propagation of a version of history, changes in the relative power that groups enjoy invariably has consequences for what and how they remember." That continues to play out in the South, as in the world.
The continued removal of Confederate symbols, monuments, & such, probably won't have the effect many (those pushing it) are hoping for. The Virginia Flaggers would not exist without these pushes. The double digit GIANT battle flags now flying in Virginia wouldn't exist without said movements. I personally see, WAY more CBF's flying today, than I did even 10 - 15yrs ago.

The unintended consequence of removing these symbols from the public space is, there will be even more of them, placed on private property, readily viewable from public space. In the end, they may not exist on public land in the future but, will be even more in view than they are today.
 

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I likewise would like to think all races of the South would come together to preserve monuments to its past and what was obviously part of the history of the entire south........

Sorry if I attributed brundages comment to you. However obviously the climate has changed and there would seem to be equal opportunity for private monuments going forward. His suggestion of funds from state legislatures seemed odd, as surely he is aware the majority of earlier ones were privately funded, not state. And private heritage groups still donate memorials to this day.

Frankly if one fifth of the NAACP values black heritige, there is a base equal to the SCV for a group going forward dedicated to preserving heritige. If most had been privately funded up to now, not sure why suggesting private funding should be somehow objectionable now. I used the NAACP simply as an example for a basis of a private heritage organisation going forward, as I wasn't aware of a black equivalent to the SCV or UDC, however the point was there is nothing prohibiting one if there's a perceived need in the black community
I cannot respond to everything in your post because it would take too long. I can only do the following, and hope it isn't too much.

1) This thread has failed. The idea was to go over the history of heritage representation in the South, with the observations that:
• throughout post-Civil War history, Africans Americans and whites in the South have contested the representation of their own views of southern heritage in the public square
• whites have been effective in creating an exclusionary commemorative landscape, due to their power, despite black resistance
• as the power relationship between whites and blacks changes, we can expect to the the landscape change, and that there will probably be conflict and controversy as this that happens

Instead of discussing these, we have gone in all sorts of different directions. My intent was not to discuss the controversy over Confederate monuments, per se, for example, but to show how we got to the place where this controversy is taking place. I was hoping to show the context in which the current controversies have occurred.

People don't seem interested in that. It's soon time for this thread to die its natural death.

2) Concerning your post: I have to push back a large portion of this.

Here's the thing: you say "I likewise would like to think all races of the South would come together to preserve monuments to its past and what was obviously part of the history of the entire south." The thing is, the history of the South is that there are far fewer monuments representing southern African Americans due to Jim Crow and other power dynamics. This is the problem. This is a point I wanted to make as part of this thread.

My own belief is, the goal for the commemorative landscape ~ whether in the South or North, or in Brazil or India or China or Russia ~ should be to accurately and fairly represent the history of the place. That is not where the South is now. The southern commemorative landscape, as it has evolved for reasons noted, is unfair and unbalanced in the way the history of the region is presented.

You say you would like to see all races of the South come together, yet you present the issue of the lack of African American monuments as a black problem that black people need to fix. This idea that it's every group for themselves, each group pushing their own interests... that is the exact same thinking that created this mess. That is how we got to where we are today.

If a fair and accurate representation of history is important, then it seems to me that all races southerners should look at the landscape as a whole, determining what is lacking, and decide, collectively, how a fairer, balanced and accurate landscape should look and be constructed. That is the ideal. I would think this is the perceived need for the entire South.

3) This is an editorial opinion, not a historical interpretation: I have said it before, I will say it again: if particular groups want others to be concerned with the representation of "their" past in the memorial landscape, it's essential that they show the same concern for how those other groups are represented.

In 1919, and in the Jim Crow era in genera, it was a tenable strategy to create a landscape that represented a white Confederate past, and excluded memories of African Americans. That's not a tenable strategy in 2019. The idea, for example, that African Americans are going to allow their tax dollars, and their co-ownership of public land, to support a biased and exclusionary view of the past is just not going to work today, not when they finally have the power to act, which they previously lacked. In fact, the idea is not working. And it is naive to think it will work.

As I see it, many of the arguments made for Confederate monuments are made with no reference to the context in which these monuments were created, and no reference to the fact that they exist within an exclusionary environment over which African American southerners had no control but which their common land and taxes were and are used to support. Or, the thinking is, well, yes, all that context stuff is true, but it doesn't matter.

But to some people, it does.

4) RE: "not sure why suggesting private funding should be somehow objectionable now."

I don't recall that anyone said private funding is objectionable.

5) Just concerning government involvement. Public monuments are public monuments for a reason. They are usually on public land and/or are maintained by the government. As a matter of fact government involvement is needed if we're talking about public monuments, such as the many monuments we see in front of state houses or court houses.

In a previous post, I mentioned a number of monuments featuring African American Civil War soldiers. I've had the opportunity to actually speak with a few of the people who took part in those projects. Most of the money was raised privately, but every project is unique, and government money was a funding source. The key thing is, governments do have budgets for commemorations and such, which varies from place to place, and varies over time. The question is, how much of these resources, which are scarce, are to be devoted to developing a commemorative landscape that accurately and fairly represents the history of the South?

That question is being asked in different places with different answers throughout the country as we speak. We will see how it works out.

- Alan
 
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1NCCAV

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Who defines Southern Heritage? I do. At least I define it for me and I reject anyone else's definition of what it means or should mean for me.

For me it's Appalachian as in Appalatchan, which is different from Appalachian as in Appalashiun and different still from Deep South or Cracker. It's similar to both those things but not the same as either of those things.

It means I like grits and biscuts and gravy but don't like chitlins or gumbo.

It means I grew up working on small tobacco and hay farms but I never saw a field of cotton.

It means I like corn bread and trout but consider catfish to be a trashy bottom feeder and hushpuppies to be needlessly overcomplicating a bread dish.

It means I have both Confederate and Union ancestors.

It means I like outdoor shows but don't care Edited. for Carolina basketball.

It means I like jacked up Jeeps with winches and pickups with big tires but think stock car racing is boring.

It means I grew up with a North Carolina license plate on my vehicle but that I had more in common with someone from East Tennessee than East North Carolina.

I could go on but the above should paint the picture.

And just as no one defines Southern Heritage for me so I don't attempt to define it for anyone else.
 

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Probably how White voters feel in Detroit, or even Wash D.C.
Nope, not in DC, I live here.

You jump to the conclusion that the voting experience of various groups is the same. History has shown that certain groups have been the subject of voter removal or suppression regimes that have affected their ability to vote or their turn-out rates. These and other factors lead to what I call depressed voter turn-out. I think you know who those certain groups are.

You speculate offhand that there has been depressed white voter turnout in DC for example, I know that is not true. Maybe it's true for Detroit, I don't know, but my guess is that you're speculating, and I find the claim dubious.

I can say that in general, black voter purges, poll taxes and other things, and voter suppression, have been tools for limiting African American participation in the public sphere. This has impacted the look of the current memorial landscape. We'll see how the landscape looks going forward.

- Alan
 

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Nope, not in DC, I live here.

You jump to the conclusion that the voting experience of various groups is the same. History has shown that certain groups have been the subject of voter removal or suppression regimes that have affected their ability to vote or their turn-out rates. These and other factors lead to what I call depressed voter turn-out. I think you know who those certain groups are.

You speculate offhand that there has been depressed white voter turnout in DC for example, I know that is not true. Maybe it's true for Detroit, I don't know, but my guess is that you're speculating, and I find the claim dubious.

I can say that in general, black voter purges, poll taxes and other things, and voter suppression, have been tools for limiting African American participation in the public sphere. This has impacted the look of the current memorial landscape. We'll see how the landscape looks going forward.

- Alan
Not in DC..? What's the majority demographic in DC...?? Edited.

I grew up close to DC. I don't live near there today but, know a thing or two about the area....

Also, that some folks choose not to vote, doesn't mean they are victims of some conspiracy to keep them from the polls. I know, & have met, plenty of folks that don't vote. Some feel their vote doesn't matter, so they don't waste their time. Some work long hours, & don't feel like stopping by the polls after work.

Human behavior is different from person to person. Plenty of folks do a lot of yacking on tv trying to explain such. We, as in those of us on this forum, are not a fair representation of the populace. Many folks just don't care (even though they should). Plenty are too tied up in surviving, & or just making it through the day, than to be bothered by politics, or even current affairs, let alone history.
 
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Not in DC..? What's the majority demographic in DC...?? Edited.

I grew up close to DC. I don't live near there today but, know a thing or two about the area....

Also, that some folks choose not to vote, doesn't mean they are victims of some conspiracy to keep them from the polls. I know, & have met, plenty of folks that don't vote. Some feel their vote doesn't matter, so they don't waste their time. Some work long hours, & don't feel like stopping by the polls after work.

Human behavior is different from person to person. Plenty of folks do a lot of yacking on tv trying to explain such. We, as in those of us on this forum, are not a fair representation of the populace. Many folks just don't care (even though they should). Plenty are too tied up in surviving, & or just making it through the day, than to be bothered by politics, or even current affairs, let alone history.
I will respond via PM.

- Alan
 

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Who defines Southern Heritage? I do. At least I define it for me and I reject anyone else's definition of what it means or should mean for me.

For me it's Appalachian as in Appalatchan, which is different from Appalachian as in Appalashiun and different still from Deep South or Cracker. It's similar to both those things but not the same as either of those things.

It means I like grits and biscuts and gravy but don't like chitlins or gumbo.

It means I grew up working on small tobacco and hay farms but I never saw a field of cotton.

It means I like corn bread and trout but consider catfish to be a trashy bottom feeder and hushpuppies to be needlessly overcomplicating a bread dish.

It means I have both Confederate and Union ancestors.

It means I like outdoor shows but don't care two s***s for Carolina basketball.

It means I like jacked up Jeeps with winches and pickups with big tires but think stock car racing is boring.

It means I grew up with a North Carolina license plate on my vehicle but that I had more in common with someone from East Tennessee than East North Carolina.

I could go on but the above should paint the picture.

And just as no one defines Southern Heritage for me so I don't attempt to define it for anyone else.
Thanks for your comment. But do note, this thread is not purposed for individuals to discuss their personal view of southern heritage. Although, that would make for an interesting thread, and perhaps you can start it.

This thread hopefully is to discuss the ways that southerners projected their heritage in the public square, and the the contests over such between black and white southerners, since the Civil War. Refer to the threads from me that started this thread.

Cheers, Alan
 

archieclement

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Thanks for your comment. But do note, this thread is not purposed for individuals to discuss their personal view of southern heritage. Although, that would make for an interesting thread, and perhaps you can start it.

This thread hopefully is to discuss the ways that southerners projected their heritage in the public square, and the the contests over such between black and white southerners, since the Civil War. Refer to the threads from me that started this thread.

Cheers, Alan
However heritage as I previously pointed out is an individual thing, there is as many southern heritiges as their is descendents, none are anymore uniquely southern then anothers.......why the collective heritage needs to be inclusive and not trying to selectively remove some peoples for anothers

If one feels one area is underrepresented then increase its representation.
 
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The point Brundage attempts to make is there was a concerted effort by certain groups in the post war South to create a White-only history of that region; without that effort the landscape would look very much different. My point is that the White view was without question the preferred one for the entire country, at least up until the Civil Rights era.
These positions are not mutually exclusive.
Yes, there was a concerted effort to create a "White-only history". And yes, the effort was not unique to Southern Whites. But that does not explain or justify the content some would include in "Southern Heritage". And regardless of where 'the blame' lies, we ought to all be able to agree that "without that effort the landscape would look very much different".
 

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FYI:

Public opinion of the Mississippi state flag — the last in the nation containing the Confederate battle emblem — is shifting, according to a poll conducted last month.​
A September survey of Mississippi voters by Jackson-based, Democratic-leaning polling firm Chism Strategies shows that just 49 percent of Mississippians favor the current state flag while 41 percent want to retire it and 10 percent are undecided about the issue.​
The percentage of Mississippians who told pollsters they support the flag is down from the 2001 flag referendum vote total, when 64 percent of voters affirmed the current state flag design. That same year, 36 percent of voters favored a new, specific flag design — one that critics at the time said was a political stunt to sway voters from voting against the current design.​
….​
- Alan
"Chism Strategies’ survey of voters in mid-September found that 49% of respondents favored the current flag while 41% wanted to retire it, with 10% undecided. African Americans post strong support for a new flag but 62% of white voters opposed the change....The sample size was 500 with a margin of error of 4.4%."
http://chismstrategies.com/news/mississippi-voters-gradual-in-shift-away-from-current-state-flag

Sometimes these polls only give us information they want us to know and hide the rest.

Current flag- 49%
New flag- 41%
Undecided- 10%
Sample size- 500

For Current flag
Total- 49%
Whites- 62%
Blacks- X

What was X?

It would have to be about 30%. That's amazing. With all the negative media coverage about anything Confederate - almost 1/3 of MS blacks support the current state flag.

"Chism Strategies has served more than 2,500 clients in all fifty states with a range of direct voter contact services. From the Courthouse to the White House, our team has earned its reputation as America’s premier phone firm for Democratic candidates and progressive causes."

I would expect that a polling group like this would do all it could to sway the results a certain way - and still the current flag won.
 
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"Chism Strategies’ survey of voters in mid-September found that 49% of respondents favored the current flag while 41% wanted to retire it, with 10% undecided. African Americans post strong support for a new flag but 62% of white voters opposed the change....The sample size was 500 with a margin of error of 4.4%."
http://chismstrategies.com/news/mississippi-voters-gradual-in-shift-away-from-current-state-flag

Sometimes these polls only give us information they want us to know and hide the rest.

Current flag- 49%
New flag- 41%
Undecided- 10%
Sample size- 500

For Current flag
Total- 49%
Whites- 62%
Blacks- X

What was X?

It would have to be about 30%. That's amazing. With all the negative media coverage about anything Confederate - almost 1/3 of MS blacks support the current state flag.

"Chism Strategies has served more than 2,500 clients in all fifty states with a range of direct voter contact services. From the Courthouse to the White House, our team has earned its reputation as America’s premier phone firm for Democratic candidates and progressive causes."

I would expect that a polling group like this would do all it could to sway the results a certain way - and still the current flag won.
So, you see no significance in a 64% vote for the MS-CBF flag in 2001 turning to a 49% approval rating?... which is below 50%?

We'll see how much more downward the trend goes, but I don't think it will stop at 49%. I will say again, I do think it will change in my lifetime, we'll see. I wouldn't gamble on it, of course... there's a lot of inertia in Mississippi. But once people believe that change can happen, often times, it does. I think it's at the point where people can believe.

- Alan

EDIT: I am not saying the above with the of "gloating" about it. I am not claiming any personal stake in how the flag looks. I do find it intriguing and remarkable that MS, which I call the "Deepest South" state, could be approaching the threshold of changing the last state flag that has a Confederate flag represented on it. This would at once not be a big deal, yet, it would be momentous.

- Alan
 
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So, you see no significance in a 64% vote for the MS-CBF flag in 2001 turning to a 49% approval rating?... which is below 50%?
Voting is what matters, not polls. I'd love to see what Chism Strategies' national poll for the 2016 election was. I'm betting (without knowing the answer), they were wrong.

An obviously bias pollster can darn near get whatever result they want. Happens all the time. That doesn't always translate to the ballot box. Many people don't care enough to vote in national, or local elections. I would suspect these same folks care even less about polls....

I've been a registered voter for nearly 30yrs. I've never been polled.
 

archieclement

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Voting is what matters, not polls. I'd love to see what Chism Strategies' national poll for the 2016 election was. I'm betting (without knowing the answer), they were wrong.

An obviously bias pollster can darn near get whatever result they want. Happens all the time. That doesn't always translate to the ballot box. Many people don't care enough to vote in national, or local elections. I would suspect these same folks care even less about polls....

I've been a registered voter for nearly 30yrs. I've never been polled.
The chism strategies conclusion is remarkably frank despite their agenda

There is no groundswell for a new state flag at this time. Moreover, in this bitter political environment with an energized anti-establishment movement, promoting a referendum on a new state flag would be unwise. Opponents of a new state flag feel much more strongly than do new flag advocates. Edited.
 
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The chism strategies conclusion is remarkably frank despite their agenda

There is no groundswell for a new state flag at this time. Moreover, in this bitter political environment with an energized anti-establishment movement, promoting a referendum on a new state flag would be unwise. Opponents of a new state flag feel much more strongly than do new flag advocates. Edited.
Yep, no new flag today or tomorrow. But again, look at the changes that have occurred since 2001. People might forget, but in 2000, there was a ballot measure to remove the ban on interracial marriage from the state constitution. The law was no longer enforced by then, as the Supreme Court in the Loving case prohibited such enforcement. But 41% voted to keep the language on the books. This was an decrease over a similar measure that passed with a 48.2% "No" vote in 1987. To use your wording, MS has a lot of "traditional" values.

But it's also been noted that by 2016, the state's universities had the Confederate flag (not the state flag) removed from their campuses. Former Ole Miss chancellor Ole Miss chancellor Robert Khayat talked about that in a 2013 article:

The perception created by the Confederate flag was causing people to look on us in a negative way... It was being used by our opponents -- not only in athletics, but in the general recruitment of students, as a negative to say that Ole Miss was still in the past...​
Most people want progress, but most people don't like change. And that just became so apparent. The idea of changing something was traumatic for a lot of people for a lot of different reasons. Some of it just had to do with good memories, of days when we were students and had winning football teams. But some of it had to do with hate and this feeling that existed between black and white people.​
...The volume of mail was remarkable. Most of it was threatening, some of it life-threatening to me, since I was symbolically the leader of this. And we worked our way through it and finally resolved it....​
Since that time, we are prospering at the university in ways that none of us could have imagined. And I think it had a significant impact on the way we were perceived not only in Mississippi, but nationally. The newspapers covering stories about Ole Miss ceased to begin their stories with the 1962 riot and with Ole Miss being an old-fashioned, 19th-century university. We were able to make that transition.​
Over time, people began to see that the benefit of not having that flag tied to our university, or vice versa, was far more valuable than the enjoyment that anybody received from waving that flag. It was measurably destructive to the university.​

My feeling is that attitudinal change on this subject is generational, but it takes time for generations to come and go. Although it doesn't help that Mississippi is losing millennials faster than any other state in America.

I bet there were people who said other states would never remove the CBF from their state flags, until they did. I don't think MS stays an outlier forever. We'll see.

- Alan
 
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This is the former Georgia state flag, which was the official flag from 1956-2001.

GeorgiaStateHistoricalFlag__31512.1499786849.jpg


This is the current state flag.

gaflag4.jpg


It resembles an older version of the flag, which is seen in this image, from 1941:

White_Plains_Georgia.jpg


The conflict over the Georgia flag illustrates the contest over the representation of southern heritage in official objects of the state. Wiki notes:

The Georgia state flag that was used from 1956 to 2001 featured a prominent Confederate battle flag and was designed by Southern Democrat John Sammons Bell, a World War II veteran and an attorney who was an outspoken supporter of segregation.[4]
The 1956 flag was adopted in an era when the Georgia General Assembly "was entirely devoted to passing legislation that would preserve segregation and white supremacy", according to a 2000 research report by the Georgia Senate. There are few, if any, written records of what was said on the Georgia House and Senate floors when the 1956 flag bill was being introduced and passed by the Georgia legislature, nor does Georgia law provide for a statement of legislative intent when a bill is introduced, although former U.S. Congressman James Mackay, one of the 32 House members who opposed the change, later stated, "There was only one reason for putting the flag on there: like the gun rack in the back of a pickup truck, it telegraphs a message."[4] Additionally, the 2000 report concluded that the "1956 General Assembly changed the state flag" during "an atmosphere of preserving segregation and resentment" to the U.S. government's rulings on integration.[4]
The 2000 report states that the people who had supported the flag's change in the 1950s said, in recalling the event years later, that "the change was made in preparation for the Civil War centennial, which was five years away; or that the change was made to commemorate and pay tribute to the Confederate veterans of the Civil War."[4] Bell, who designed the 1956 flag and supported its adoption during the 1950s as a defense of the state's "institutions", which at the time included segregation, claimed years later that he did so to honor Confederate soldiers.[4] The 2000 report states that the claims that the flag was ostensibly changed in 1956 to honor Confederate soldiers came much later after the flag's adoption, in an attempt by the change's supporters to backtrack from prior support of segregationism in an era where it was no longer fashionable, saying that the "argument that the flag was changed in 1956 in preparation for the approaching Civil War centennial appears to be a retrospective or after-the-fact argument" and that "no one in 1956, including the flag’s sponsors, claimed that the change was in anticipation of the coming anniversary".[4]
At the time, opposition to changing the flag came from various sides, including from Confederate historical groups like the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). Opponents to a change of the flag stated that incorporating the Confederate battle flag into the design would be too sectionalist, counterproductive, and divisive, saying that people should show patriotism towards the United States rather than the defunct Confederacy, referring to the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance, which states that the U.S. is "one nation ... indivisible".[4] Opponents of the flag's change also said that there was nothing wrong with the 1920 flag and that people were content with it.[4] Others opposed changing the flag out of the burden it would place on those who would have to purchase a new flag to replace the outdated one.[4]
The 2000 Georgia senate report and other critics have interpreted the adoption of the 1956 flag as a symbol of racist protest, citing legislation passed in 1956 which included bills rejecting Brown v. Board of Education and pro-segregationist comments by then-Governor Marvin Griffin, such as "The rest of the nation is looking to Georgia for the lead in segregation."[4][5][6]
Political pressure for a change in the official state flag increased during the 1990s, in particular during the run-up to the 1996 Olympic Games that were held in Atlanta. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) focused on the Georgia flag as a major issue and some business leaders in Georgia felt that the perceptions of the flag were causing economic harm to the state. In 1992, Governor Zell Miller announced his intention to get the Confederate element removed, but the state legislature refused to pass any flag-modifying legislation. The matter was dropped after the 1993 legislative session.[citation needed] Many Atlanta residents and some Georgia politicians refused to fly the 1956 flag and flew the pre-1956 flag instead.[citation needed]​
Miller's successor as governor, Roy Barnes, responded to the increasing calls for a new state flag, and in 2001 hurried a replacement through the Georgia General Assembly. His new flag, designed by architect Cecil Alexander, sought a compromise, by featuring small versions of some (but not all) of Georgia's former flags, including the controversial 1956 flag, under the words "Georgia's History." Those flags are a thirteen-star U.S. flag of the "Betsy Ross" design; the first Georgia flag (before 1879); the 1920–1956 Georgia flag; the previous state flag (1956–2001); and the current fifty-star U.S. flag.​
In a 2001 survey on state and provincial flags in North America conducted by the North American Vexillological Association, the redesigned Georgia flag was ranked the worst by a wide margin. The group stated that the flag "violates all the principles of good flag design."[7] After the 1956 state flag was replaced in 2001, the Georgia city of Trenton adopted a modified version as its official city flag, to protest its discontinuation.[8]
There was widespread opposition to the new flag, deemed the "Barnes flag". It led, according to Barnes himself, to his defeat for reelection two years later; the flag was a major issue in the election.[9]
In 2002, Sonny Perdue was elected Governor of Georgia, partially on a platform of allowing Georgians to choose their own flag in a state referendum. He authorized the Georgia legislature to draft a new flag in 2003.[10]
The Georgia General Assembly's proposed flag combined elements of Georgia's previous flags, creating a composition that was inspired by the Confederate First National flag, the Stars and Bars, rather than the Confederate Battle Flag. Perdue signed the legislation into law on May 8, 2003.[11]
The 2003 flag legislation also authorized a public referendum on which of the two most recent flags (the 2001 and 2003 versions) would be adopted as the flag of the state; the 1956 flag was not an option. The referendum took place during the state's March 2, 2004 presidential primary election. If the 2003 flag was rejected, the pre-2001 design would have been put to a vote.[12] The 2003 design won 73.1% of the vote in the referendum.[13]

A key point which is not noted above is that when the CBF-based flag was adopted in 1956, African Americans were shut-out the of electoral politics in the state. The adoption of the flag was a whites-only process.

Had African Americans been similarly disenfranchised during later debates over the flag, there might not even have been a debate over the look of the flag at all; the 1956 version of the flag might still be alive today. To be sure, support for changing the flag was biracial. But biracial support was probably essential in the process.

- Alan
 
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