TATE COUNTY, Miss. — It was a lonely sendoff for the former state flag of Mississippi outside the Tate County courthouse Wednesday evening.
Hardly anyone was around to see it. In fact, county supervisor Daryl Ricks had to ask a man driving by to help him fold it.
“There’s the end of an era,” Ricks said.
Many are glad it’s over.
“Giving us a chance to restart and seeing a difference in the area, in the state,” Mississippi resident Melodie Coleman said.
Critics said the Confederate battle emblem on the flag is a symbol of racism, but Ricks disagrees.
“I see history,” Ricks said. “I see history of this country that was divided for a number of reasons, and slavery was just one of them.”
Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill to replace the flag earlier this month. He gave governments across the state until the evening of July 15 to stop flying it. Officials in Tate County voted to wait until the last minute.
“They gave us no flag to replace it with,” Ricks said. “I felt it probably should have stayed until they had the new flag.”
Mississippians will vote on that new flag in November. They will choose from a selection of designs submitted by the public, but Ricks would have preferred a vote on removing the flag first. He doesn’t believe the Confederate battle emblem is racist but said he understands why others feel it is.
“I went to school with Blacks and played with them. They were my friends. They’re my friends today,” Ricks said. “I’m a Christian man, and there’s only once race, the human race.”
The state legislature declared any design for the new flag must include “In God We Trust.” The flag taken down in Tate County may end up on display inside the courthouse.
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