Delta State removes Mississippi flag due to Confederate symbol

Delta State University will no longer fly the Mississippi flag because of the flag’s ties to the Confederacy, officials announced on Thursday.

The institution is the last of the state’s eight public universities to remove the flag, which bears the Confederate battle symbol. Over the past few years, the University of Mississippi, Alcorn State, Jackson State and other Mississippi institutions have made the same call after a strong push from students, staff and faculty. The actions revived a conversation about designing a new flag.

Delta State President William LaForge said the university supported the adoption of a new flag in 2015, but nothing has happened since. He said the Confederate symbol doesn’t reflect the school’s standards of diversity, inclusion, fairness and hospitality. Lowering the flag was a symbolic act — a renewed call for change, he said.

“We believe that continuing to fly the state flag — with its divisive symbol that sends a confusing message, at best, and that has increasingly become a distraction to our mission — is contrary to our core values and to an accurate understanding of who we are and what we stand for as a university,” LaForge said.

LaForge said the decision will disappoint some people, but it also opens the door for other opportunities. Delta State has not been able to host NCAA swimming and diving championships because of the design of the state’s flag.

“The NCAA has advised that, ‘…the Confederate flag is a symbol of oppression to many of our players, fans and coaches,'” LaForge said in an August 2015 statement.

Despite the decision, LaForge said the university will continue to respect the state and its people. The state flag will be placed in the university’s archives and the bicentennial banner unveiled by the Mississippi Economic Council in October will fly in its place.

“Delta State will demonstrate its respect for the state by continuing to inspire its students and educate new generations of thinkers and leaders who will invest in this state’s future,” LaForge said. “Taking down the state flag on this campus is the right thing to do, and it is in the best interest of Delta State University because we are working to help shape the New Mississippi.”

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