Members of the Union County Board of Supervisors have weighed in on the controversial issue of changing the state flag.
Union County Board of Supervisors President Randy Owen said the voters, not the state Legislature, should decide whether the state flag is changed.
Owen said he personally does not have a problem with the flag. He noted that the flag has had its current design for many years.
The state flag currently flies in front of the Union County Courthouse and New Albany City Hall.
The state Legislature on Sunday voted to change the Mississippi flag by removing the Confederate battle emblem. A commission will be formed to design the new flag, which must contain the words "in God We Trust."
But Owen said letting the voters decide whether the flag is changed is the American way.
Union County Supervisor Steve Watson opposes changing the state flag.
“That’s not going to change history,” said Watson.
However, Watson said if there is an effort to change the state flag it should be done by a vote of the people and not the Legislature.
Supervisor Chad Coffey issued a statement on the flag issue, saying, “I believe the people of Mississippi should decide the outcome of this issue with a vote, but I do not believe erasing history will heal things on a state or national level. In order for real change to take place, it has to start in homes and in the heart.”
Supervisor Sam Taylor also issued a statement, saying, “I have no problem with our current state flag. Changing the flag cannot change our history or change individuals’ opinions. Our history belongs to all of us, and it’s for us to learn from it. If changing our state flag will ease tension and concerns, I think it should be voted by the people and not legislators.”
Union County Supervisor CJ Bright could not be reached for comment.
Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann said he is “open” to changing the state flag.
“In my mind, our flag should bear the Seal of the Great State of Mississippi and state ‘In God We Trust.’ I am open to bringing all citizens together to determine a banner for our future,” Hosemann said in a statement.
He added, “The Legislature in 1894 selected the current flag and the Legislature should address it today. Failing to do so only harms us and postpones the inevitable.”
The Mississippi Baptist Convention also said, “We encourage our governor and state Legislature to take the necessary steps to adopt a new flag for the state of Mississippi that represents the dignity of every Mississippian and promotes unity instead of division.”
A “significant portion” of the state sees the current flag as a “relic of racism and a symbol of hatred,” the Mississippi Baptist Convention’s statement said. “The racial overtones of the flag’s appearance make this discussion a moral issue. Since the principal teachings of Scripture are opposed to racism, a stand against such is a matter of biblical morality.”
The NCAA has also weighed in on the issue, saying championship events cannot be played in the state since the flag contains the Confederate symbol.
Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey said, “It is past time for change to be made to the flag of the State of Mississippi. Our students deserve an opportunity to learn and compete in environments that are inclusive and welcoming to all. In the event there is no change, there will be consideration of precluding Southeastern Conference championship events from being conducted in the State of Mississippi until the state flag is changed.”