Before I begin: Let me take a moment to make something perfectly clear––I don’t care who started the institution of slavery not even the institution of chattel slavery, nor do I care who participated in that institution, nor when they participated in it, nor do I care who sold whom to whom. All of that is mere history and cannot be altered and we should not attempt to alter our understanding of that history. We should only attempt to understand our history as clearly and concisely as possible with as few misconceptions as possible.
This movement, to remove all emblems of that Southern Confederacy from my state’s official emblems, that I am involved with is not about those emblems themselves nor really even about the ideologies behind those particular emblems as reprehensible as those ideologies were and still are; rather, this movement is about EXTENDING THE RIGHT OF DIGNITY TO ALL citizens of the Great State of Mississippi. A dignity that over a third of the citizens and/or residents of this great state is, in my opinion, besmirched by the use of emblems that were once used to defend the right of ancestors of one race to own the ancestors of another race as personal property or as chattel.
The only thing I care about is providing the conditions that will allow each and every person in the state of Mississippi – The Privilege To Live With The Dignity Of Being Thought Of And Treated As Fully Human.
In my efforts to take references to the Confederate States of America from the official flag of my native state, Mississippi, many of the people I meet, mostly EuroAmericans, seem to think our efforts to remove those emblems are all about hating The Rebel Flag.
Because my Granny always told me:
“We don’t hate things; we dislike them,”
thus, I, for one, do not hate the flag. However, having read the proceedings of the secession conventions of as many of the seceding states that I have so far been able to find (seven as of now) I do find that the ideology behind those emblems and symbols is reprehensible. I repeat: I find their justifications and rationales reprehensible. As the symbols those men chose to represent their reprehensible ideals carry with them the disdain the designers (of those symbols) held for their chief commodity I find the use of those emblems equally reprehensible. That commodity was AFRICAN SLAVES (which those men held as chattel or as personal possessions.
Point of curiosity: the most valuable commodity in the antebellum south was a 14 or 15 year old virgin–the lighter her skin the more valuable she was. Her price in today’s money could be as high as seventy thousand dollars––that is $70,000 for one human being.)
Ninety-five plus precent of the paper and ink that those men used to justify their actions in seceding from the Union and forming their “Southern Confederacy” was directly related to what they, themselves, called the The Institution of African Slavery: aka, That Institution Vital to the Southern Way of Life, Our Peculiar Institution, as well as, The Institution upon which The Southern Way of Life is Built and others. I emphasize these euphemisms for the enslavement of their fellow human beings because those euphemisms are quotes lifted directly from their documents that they produced in their own hand on their own paper with their own ink in efforts to justify their own actions to secede from the US of A so they could form a regional government which would allow them to continue, ad infinitum, to profit from the cheapest form of labor they could imagine. An effort made, even, at any cost of the lives of approximately one and a quarter million (1,250,000) American lives [over half of which were their fellow southerners. The vast majority of those fellow southerners were poor as if a man owned twenty or more slaves he was not obligated to fight to protect that insane institution he profited so greatly from; plus any man who could afford it could buy his way out of serving in the War which was the case with most Slaveholders (point of fact: this latter fact was true on both sides of the war as in almost all wars of the modern era.)]
This movement is about providing an emblem that will allow each and every Mississippian the right and privilege to be able to choose to feel pride in their state’s official emblem.
Then there is the eternal nihilistic comment:
“You won’t change that many minds.”
The truth is I’m not expecting to change any minds for no one can change any other persons mind: only the person him/herself can change his/her own mind by what he/she chooses to think and feel. I do, however, hope to influence a few of those whose minds are not already set, as if in stone.
This I hope to do primarily through education and a rational and reasoned explanation of the need to have a symbol common to all Mississippians that allows each Mississippian an opportunity to feel equally represented by their state’s flag.
It should be the right and privilege of each and every citizen of any body politic to be equally and fairly represented by the flag of their nation, state or locality: that is, to be represented by an emblem not representative of a war “to maintain the heavenly ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race,” as stated by William T. Tappan gave in a description for his design of the Confederate National Flag*.
Even the most marginalized resident of a state, like all other citizens of any juridical district, deserves to have a flag flying over the executive, legislative and judicial branches where their government is housed. Even the most marginalized resident deserves to have a flag that fairly represents them without prejudice flying over their courthouses and city halls where they are subject to be tried and sentenced to jail or prison, and where they pay their taxes, etc. Even the most marginalized resident deserves to have their children educated in schools over which flies a flag that does not represent a history nor a heritage that “rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition.” Alexander Stevens VP of the Confederacy**.
Each and every citizen of this and every state deserves and has the right to be represented as fully human with all the rights, privileges and dignity of any and all other human beings.
*“As a people we are fighting to maintain the heavenly ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause. Such a flag would be a suitable emblem of our young confederacy, and sustained by the brave hearts and strong arms of the south, it would soon take rank among the proudest ensigns of the nations, and be hailed by the civilized world as THE WHITE MAN’S FLAG.”
Roger W. Mills II