The University of Mississippi removed the state flag on its Oxford campus Monday because the banner contains the Confederate battle emblem, which some see as a painful reminder of slavery and segregation.
Interim Chancellor Morris Stocks ordered the flag lowered and said it was being sent to the university’s archives. The action came days after the student senate, the faculty senate and other groups adopted a student-led resolution calling for removal of the banner from campus.
“As Mississippi’s flagship university, we have a deep love and respect for our state,” Stocks said in a statement Monday. “Because the flag remains Mississippi’s official banner, this was a hard decision. I understand the flag represents tradition and honor to some. But to others, the flag means that some members of the Ole Miss family are not welcomed or valued.”
Since 1894, the Mississippi flag has had the Confederate battle emblem in the upper left corner — a blue X with 13 white stars, over a field of red. Residents chose to keep the flag during a 2001 statewide vote. However, the public display of Confederate symbols has been subject to heated debates since the June massacre of nine black worshippers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Police said the attack was racially motivated. The white man charged in the slayings had posed with a Confederate battle flag in photos posted online before the massacre.
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