If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Compromise: Mississippi Lawmaker Offers Two-Flag Solution
Don Lewis, the chief operations officer of Tupelo, Miss., just wanted the holiday season to be “peaceful and calm.” That’s why Lewis told the Daily Journal he suggested flying the state’s bicentennial banner over municipal buildings instead of the Mississippi state flag until sometime after the first of the year.
But pretty soon after the calendar turned January, the state flag with the Confederate battle emblem was flying over Tupelo police headquarters, reigniting the controversy over Mississippi’s history.
All eight of Mississippi’s public universities stopped flying the state flag last year because of the Confederate stars-and-bars, as did several cities and counties. But several media outlets reported Tupelo police officials replaced the state’s bicentennial banner with the state flag the first week of January.
"I want us to be a city for all people, not just any one color," Tupelo City Council member Willie Jennings said. "We need to find a better way of working together."
State Rep. Greg Snowden (R) thinks he has the “better way” that Jennings and other Mississippians have been searching for: two state flags.
The same week Tupelo police were raising the Confederate Stars-and-Bars on one of three flagpoles at their headquarters, Snowden submitted legislation that would mandate the creation of a second state flag.
The second flag would replace the Confederate symbol with the “Magnolia grandiflora with white flowers” that was part of the Mississippi flag that flew over the state from 1861 to 1894 before the current flag was adopted.
"We feel that it is most appropriate to adopt the historical Magnolia Flag as an additional design of the official state flag that may be flown with equal status and dignity to represent our state as we are beginning our third century as a member of the United States," the bill says.
Under Snowden’s proposal, “each design may be flown individually as the official flag, or they may be flown together.”
"That way you would not be changing the flag, per se, and you would still allow people to have a voice," Snowden told WTOK.
However, Snowden’s bill is only one of three pieces of legislation submitted the first week of January regarding Mississippi’s state flag.
Senate Republicans Joseph Seymour and Angela Hill submitted nearly identical pieces of legislation that would mandate the flying of the Mississippi flag that includes the Confederate symbol.
Seymour’s legislation would penalize any state administrators or college officials who choose not to fly the official state flag where it hurts the most: in the wallet. Twenty-five percent of their pay could be withheld if the Stars-and-Bars don’t fly.
"I don't care if it's a burlap sack or a diaper, you know what I mean?" Seymour told WDAM. "The construction of the flag is noteeeeeeeeeeeeeee what the issue is here.”