On a weekend when many Americans choose to honor Indigenous Peoples Day over Columbus Day, a related push against symbols of an oppressive cultural heritage played out in Mississippi.
Approximately 400 people gathered outside the State Capitol in Jackson on Sunday to call for the removal of the Confederate battle emblem from the Mississippi state flag, The Associated Press reports.
The "stars and bars" embedded in the upper left quadrant of the state banner was a battle flag used by certain armies aligned with the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. It has since been embraced and flown, both explicitly and implicitly, as a symbol of white supremacy.
The Confederate battle flag is often defended as a symbol of southern tradition and cultural heritage—usually by white people. A CNN/ORC poll from July found that 66% of white respondents viewed the banner more as a symbol of pride than as a symbol of racism. Black participants disagreed, with 72% of respondents viewing it more as a symbol of racism than as a symbol of pride.
Mississippi's is one of many American flags containing symbols of the nation's oppressive past. This summer, the South Carolina General Assembly voted to remove the Confederate battle flag from state grounds following a push by activists who connected the long-flying racist symbol to the shooting at an historic black church in Charleston.
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