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Speaker Philip Gunn: 'We need to begin having conversations about changing Mississippi's flag'

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Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

One Mississippi leader is calling to remove and change the state's controversial flag.

"We must always remember our past, but that does not mean we must let it define us," said Speaker of the House Philip Gunn. "As a Christian, I believe our state's flag has become a point of offense that needs to be removed. We need to begin having conversations about changing Mississippi's flag."

The Confederate battle flag is at the center of controversy. South Carolina's Governor is calling for it to be removed from the state house grounds. Meanwhile, the emblem is still part of Mississippi's state flag.

Thousands of folks are signing a MoveOn.org petition to get rid of it. Mississippians had the chance to do so in 2001. But it was nearly a 2-1 margin to keep the existing flag.

"There are many things I love about Mississippi," said ReThink Mississippi editor Jake McGraw. "None of them are represented by that flag."

"The historical perspective is for us to keep that flag," countered Sons of Confederate Veterans' 4th Brigade Commander Marc Allen.

Mississippi's flag is a polarizing topic. Jake McGraw is the editor of ReThink Mississippi and public policy coordinator at the William Winter Institute. He views the flag as a roadblock for showing the rest of the country how the state has changed.

"It's true that getting rid of the Confederate design of the flag won't end racism and it won't dismantle white supremacy,” McGraw noted. “But what keeping it on says is that we don't even want to try to do those things. But we're happy perpetuating it as long as we can."

Marc Allen, 4th Brigade Commander for the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, said it would be an insult to his ancestors to change it.

"Why it should stick around is doing what is right,” Allen explained. “Standing up for your beliefs. Standing up for what is true and correct."

He admits there are hate groups who place different symbolism on the flag. But says that's something his group absolutely does not endorse.

An online petition to remove the Confederate battle flag from Mississippi's flag--now has more than two-thousand signatures.

Some houses in the Jackson area are even flying the pre-Civil War state flag, known as the Magnolia Flag.

“A vast majority of Mississippians voted to keep the state's flag, and I don't believe the Mississippi Legislature will act to supersede the will of the people on this issue,” said Governor Phil Bryant.

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