Closer Look At The Missississippi State Flag


By: Steve Hopkins

The State Flag debate is back at the forefront as one of the most talked about issues in Mississippi of late.

Last week Mississippi hosted the Southern Legislative Conference with over 1300 people attending.

At this conference, a meeting/discussion was held to talk about the Mississippi State Flag.

Speaker Gunn stated after the meeting that “there aren’t enough votes at this time to change the flag”.

This is true and I and many of my colleagues in the House of Representatives believe if there is to be another vote the people of Mississippi should vote not the politicians. In 2001, in an almost 2 to 1 vote, the people of Mississippi elected to keep the Flag of 1894 and we believe that it would be irresponsible of the Legislature to vote and overthrow the will of the people.

All that being said, Mississippi has a State Flag and by law schools K-12 are required to fly the State Flag. So why aren’t our Colleges and Universities required to fly the flag? This is a really good question but one that I can’t answer because I wasn’t there when that law was passed. Cop Out? NO! In the last two years many of my colleagues and I have tried to get legislation passed to require our institutions of higher learning to fly our State Flag. Bills that are introduced in the House or Senate can easily be killed by the committee chairmen by simply not bringing them before the committee for a vote. We also had an amendment to a budget bill that would have required Colleges and Universities to fly the flag. The amendment passed but it was stripped out in conference by the Chairman of the Ways and Means committee. Excuses, excuses right? Wrong! The facts are stated above and those of us who stand firm that any agency, organization or institution that receives state taxpayer’s money should have to fly the state flag. My friend and colleague, Dana Criswell had a phone conversation with Chancellor Vitter of Ole Miss concerning the flag. Chancellor Vitter informed Representative Criswell that one of the goals of the University of Mississippi was an attempt to force the State Legislature to change the flag.

How is it that a Chancellor, who is a state employee, can be so bold as to make a statement like that? Because the Chancellor’s / Presidents of our colleges and universities don’t answer to the people, they answer to an unelected board. The IHL board is the board in question and they answer to no one! Let that sink in for a minute. My answer? I will have a bill in 2018 to eliminate the IHL board and give the state Senate the authority to appoint these important positions and I need your help to get it passed. The only way this bill will be brought up for a vote is for all who agree, to email the Speaker of the House and the Chairman of Universities and Colleges and ask that they allow this bill to make it to the floor for a vote.

This article isn’t an attempt to besmirch any of the members of the Legislature but to educate the voters on the process and to empower you on how you can make a difference in the decision making in Jackson. You’ve heard the old adage, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”?