This is a common sentiment in White Mississippi — that the Confederate battle flag is a historic banner that embodies the noble service and sacrifice of men who fought for “states’ rights.”
The other side of states’ rights in Mississippi evokes the Black Codes, the Mississippi Plan, the pig law, prison farms, poll taxes, Jim Crow segregation and the killings of Emmett Till and Medgar Evers and the three civil rights workers. Mississippi’s Confederate veterans won the battle for White supremacy, built monuments to themselves in nearly every town and set in place a system of oppression that would last until the civil rights movement finally knocked it away. A recent 1,100-mile trip through the state that included dozens of interviews revealed pockets of support for a new flag among Whites, mostly in college towns and larger cities. Nearly all African Americans are against the existing flag, but doubt is widespread that change is within reach.
“My district would be in support of a new flag, but they’re like, ‘This has a snowball’s chance in hell,’ ” said Kimberly Campbell, a state House representative from the heavily African American Jackson area.