The Mississippi Link Newswire
When I heard the news of the massacre at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston last June it horrified me, but I can’t say it surprised me. I come from Mississippi, where the struggle for racial harmony has always been particularly tough and violent.
Ten people were convicted of assaulting African Americans in Jackson in racially motivated attacks. They harassed and assaulted poor, defenseless people with beer bottles and slingshots. One of these convictions was due to the murder of an African-American man, James Anderson, when one attack went too far. They brutally beat and then ran him over with their truck.
This may seem like a scene from 50 years ago at the height of the Civil Rights conflict, but it isn’t. These issues that Americans faced so many decades ago are the same ones we face today.
After every other state in the union has done the right thing and removed the Confederate symbol from their flags, Mississippi stands alone, steeped in injustice and fear.
I need you to understand that I come from Mississippi. I know the history of my home state.
This is the state that is the last stronghold of overt racism and hatred toward African Americans. Mississippi is where Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy, was kidnapped and murdered; his killers known, but allowed to walk free.
This is where nine students, on a quest to reach their academic goals in their effort to live the American dream, were arrested at Tougaloo College. Their crime? Reading in a “whites only” public library.
The entire Ole Miss university erupted in a raucous because of the Supreme Court decision to allow a black man, James Meredith, to attend the school. The riot was so terrible that the National Guard had to be mobilized for Meredith’s protection.
This is where my forefathers and ancestors were hung from trees and the Confederate flag driven into the ground by their bodies and now our governor has declared “Confederate Heritage Month,” proudly championing a symbol that has represented nothing but murder and injustice for an entire people.
This has been the legacy of Mississippi, but we are standing on the precipice. We are at a pivotal moment in history that will define our state and define us as Mississippians.
This is the moment for us all to make the right choice.
What will we do? Will we continue to follow the path laid out in our tragic history, or will we stand up for what we know is right?
Our great state has made leaps and bounds as our country wrestled with its conscience and struggled with the horrors of the past. The entire country has a history that is thick with terrible crimes, but Americans have always strived to correct our country’s wrongs.
This is why the Confederate symbol must go. This symbol is neither noble, nor righteous. It represents nothing but hatred, bigotry and intolerance.
We can no longer lift up and praise the history of a confederacy that went to war against our government for the “right” to slavery.
We as Mississippians, as Americans, must disavow all symbols of hate. The world is watching us, to see if we will hold ourselves to the same standards of justice and equality that we preach to other nations.
Let’s not perpetuate division by taking stands that continue to divide us. Our elected officials should work to unify us on the things that we have in common – not try to divide us with hate rhetoric.
The Confederate symbol has divided us for much too long.
Mississippi, the spotlight is on us. We have an opportunity here to be an example for the entire country. Let’s lead the conversation, and encourage change.
We’ve done it before. We’ve come together to right the wrongs of the past and take a stand for justice.
Let’s continue on the path that we’ve already begun.
I come from Mississippi and yes, this state has a terrible history. But we have such a rich future ahead of us.
Let’s call on Mississippi lawmakers to show the world how great this state can be and remove the Confederate symbol from the Mississippi state flag.
Duvalier J. Malone is a political consultant and host of Growth Talk radio/TV show in Washington, D.C. His website is www.duvaliermalone.com.