As descendants of Confederate veterans, we call on Governor Tate Reeves and the members of the Mississippi Legislature to remove the Confederate battle flag from the state flag, and replace it with a flag representative of all Mississippians.
We also call on Governor Reeves to issue a Civil War Remembrance Month proclamation in April 2021 instead of a Confederate Heritage Month, so that the complete history of both black and white Mississippians who lived through the Civil War can be learned and remembered.
Though our ancestors went to war individually for many reasons, they were the military arm of a government that existed mainly for the perpetuation of slavery and whose “cornerstone rest[ed] upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man.” They often carried variations of the Confederate battle flag that is depicted in the canton of the Mississippi state flag to represent that military. Enslaved people were 55% of the population, the majority, in Mississippi in 1860. Black voices were silenced. Black lives did not matter.
Few realize that this was not our state flag until an 1894 vote by a Legislature that was 98% white in a state that was 58% black. It symbolized a change in our laws where wealthy white Mississippians, faced with possible threats to their power, rewrote our state constitution to deny black men, and many poor white men, of their Constitutional right to vote. Black voices were not heard even though they were the majority of the population. Black lives did not matter.
We believe that in order to move forward as a state, we must be honest about our collective history and confront our complex past directly in an honest and respectful manner. It is our responsibility to acknowledge the past, both good and bad. Shame thrives in darkness, and we will continue to live in darkness until we fully acknowledge the history and experiences of ALL Mississippians.
Mississippi has much to be proud of. Our history is much more than just four years of fighting. We can remember our ancestors and have “pride in her history and achievements” without celebrating symbols of the Confederacy and white supremacy. We must let go of the false narratives that hold us back and minimize black experiences. We reject the myths of the Lost Cause movement as taught by the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), the Delta Flaggers, the Ku Klux Klan, and other groups who support the symbols of the Confederacy. They do NOT speak for us.
The white supremacist ideologies and symbols of 1861 and 1894 do not and should not represent the people of this great state in 2020. The current state flag does NOT represent us as descendants of Confederate veterans.
Some argue that the flag honors the sacrifices of our ancestors. That may be true, but if so, it also embraces their belief in the validity of slavery when much of the western world was turning away from it. The Mississippi state flag also perpetuates the theft of 1894, when Mississippians forgot that when the Constitutional rights of some Mississippians are stolen, the rights of all Mississippians are stolen.
The Confederate battle flag in its canton was also used to intimidate and silence black voices during the Civil Rights Movement and is a reminder that black Mississippians did not matter. Black Mississippians have been telling us for years that the Mississippi state flag did NOT represent them, and we have not listened.
It is time to tell the world that in 2020, we are no longer the Mississippi of our ancestors. It is time for black lives to matter in Mississippi. It is time to listen to black Mississippians and for black lives to matter enough in Mississippi for the flag to change. We have lived as a divided people way too long. The Legislature put the flag up and the Legislature can take it down.
Take it down, Mississippi. It is the right thing to do.
Descendants of Confederate Veterans as listed below
1. Lisa C. Foster, Petal, MS – Descendant of Asberry Odom, Company G, 27th Mississippi Infantry, John D. Bedwell, Company B, 22nd Alabama Infantry, M. M. Fortinberry, Company A, 2nd Mississippi Infantry, and many more
2. Jason Cotton Hillman, Brooklyn, MS – Descendant of Private Pinckney George Hillman and the Honorable Captain Henry David Roberts, both of Company A, 24th Mississippi Infantry Regiment
3. Robert Vance, Brandon, MS – Descendant of Cpl. Thomas Vance, 46th Mississippi Infantry
4. Aimee Bordelon, Starkville, MS – Descendant of James Whitley, Company E, 55th Georgia Infantry
5. Stephanie Jackson, Kosciusko, MS – Descendant of Clem McMillian, 40th Mississippi Infantry
6. Suzanne Sanders, Brandon, MS – Descendant of Jefferson Washington Sanders, Company C, 6th Mississippi Infantry, Elisha Monroe Williams, Company C, 4th Louisiana Battalion (Cavalry), Bennett Rose Pace, 8th Regiment Mississippi Infantry, and many more
7. Anthony Odom, Columbus, MS – Descendant of Lott Ross, Company B, 10th Georgia Infantry Battalion
8. Christopher Sistrunk, Clinton, MS – Descendant of Alexander Ladner, Company B, 7th Battlion Mississippi Infantry, Allen S. Burge, Company C, 38th Mississippi Infantry (Mounted), John Douglas Thomas, Company D, Miller’s 9th Regiment Mississippi Cavalry
9. Ken McCarley, Madison, MS – Descendant of Lt. Col Mose McCarley, 23rd Regiment Mississippi Infantry
10. Tony Gunter, Hattiesburg, MS – Descendant of George Washington Gunter, 7th Mississippi Cavalry
11. Oscar “Skipper” Jones, Flowood, MS – Descendant of James Thomas Jones, 13th Mississippi Infantry
12. Jana Pinnow, Greenville, MS – Descendant of Private Daniel Buford Boswell, 3rd Regiment Tennessee Infantry (Clack’s)
13. Laura Woodard, Ruth, MS – Descendant of Private Florestan Champagne, 30th Lousiana Infantry
14. John P. Reynolds, Hattiesburg, MS – Descendant of Private John Thomas Reynolds, 28th Mississippi Cavalry, Captain William Harris Hardy, 16th Mississippi Regiment, Private Simeon Lewis, 5th Mississippi Guards, and many more
15. Diana Hill Hinton, Water Valley, MS – Descendant of James V. Smith, Company F, 15th Mississippi Infantry, and George Washington Hill, Company C, 31st Mississippi Infantry
16. Amie K. Russell, Starkvill, MS – Descendant of Robert V. Forman, Company K, 7th Mississippi Infantry
17. Amelia S. McGowan, Vicksburg, MS – Descendant of James H. Steadman, Co. F, 10th Regt Alabama Inf, R. H. Kirkpatrick, Co. K, 1st Regt Alabama Inf, William R. Magruder, 34th Regt Alabama Inf, and James N. Smith, Co. A, 39th Regt Mississippi Inf
18. Meghan Murphree, Hernando, MS – Descendant of Richard Cox HIll, Company F, 17th Regiment Texas Volunteers
19. Shirley Herndon, Leakesville, MS – Descendant of Private Pinckney George Hillman and the Honorable Captain Henry David Roberts, both of Company A, 24th Mississippi Infantry Regiment
20. Slim Smith, Columbus, MS – Descendant of Enoch James Dunnam, Company H, 23rd Mississippi
21. Jarrett Forman, Hattiesburg, MS – Descendant of Robert V. Forman, Company K, 7th Mississippi Infantry and Shadrick “Shade” Coker, Garland’s Battalion, Mississippi Cavalry
22. Mary Beth Mobley, Oxford, MS – Descendant of William L. Mudd, Company D, 6th Regiment Kentucky Mounted Infantry
23. Melanie Wilbanks, Hickory Flat, MS – Descendant of Robert V. Forman, Company K, 7th Mississippi Infantry
24. Abigail Isbell, Madison, MS – Descendant of Henry Willis Loe, Company G, 26th Arkansas Infantry, Nathaniel C. Calloway, 23rd Arkansas Infantry, Jesse Thomas Cook, Company D, 1st Arkansas Cavalry Regiment, and many more
25. Linda Letherwod, Jackson, MS – Descendant of George C. Letherwood, Company E, 11th Georgia Regiement
26. Lisa Howell, Ocean Springs, MS – Descendant of Alfred Elliot Moreton, 12th Mississippi Regiment
27. Douglas Myatt, Ocean Springs, MS – Descendant of Ebenezer Prentiss Stewart, 7th Mississippi Infantry, Dr. Henry Clay Abney, Company K, 37th Regiment Mississippi Infantry, and Levi Jasper Bass, Company E, 38th Mississippi Infantry
28. Glen Myatt, Purvis, MS – Descendant of Ebenezer Prentiss Stewart, 7th Mississippi Infantry, Dr. Henry Clay Abney, Company K, 37th Regiment Mississippi Infantry, and Levi Jasper Bass, Company E, 38th Mississippi Infantry
29. Glen David Myatt, Jr, Purvis, MS – Descendant of Ebenezer Prentiss Stewart, 7th Mississippi Infantry, Dr. Henry Clay Abney, Company K, 37th Regiment Mississippi Infantry, and Levi Jasper Bass, Company E, 38th Mississippi Infantry
30. Owen Thomas Myatt, Purvis, MS – Descendant of Ebenezer Prentiss Stewart, 7th Mississippi Infantry, Dr. Henry Clay Abney, Company K, 37th Regiment Mississippi Infantry, and Levi Jasper Bass, Company E, 38th Mississippi Infantry
31. Dr. Stephen McDavid, Ocean Springs, MS – William Harnsberger, Company I, 1st Virginia Cavalry Regiment
 From Alexander Stephens’ Cornerstone Speech.
 From The Pledge to the Mississippi Flag