1894 banner wins
1894 FLAG n Flying over the state Capitol in Jackson Tuesday is the 1894 banner with the Confederate cross, which voters decided to keep. AP photo
By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
April 18, 2001
After an overwhelming majority of Mississippians voted to keep the state's 1894 flag, opposing groups say the debate is over but only temporarily.
The 1894 flag has been the subject of controversy because its canton corner contains a Confederate Battle Flag, which African-Americans say is a racist symbol and a reminder of oppressive times.
Unofficial results from Tuesday's special election showed 65 percent of votes cast were for the historic banner, while only 35 percent cast votes for a new flag without the Confederate emblem.
Local NAACP President Obie Clark says he was not shocked by Tuesday's results. Clark said the state had a chance to erase the stigma that has surrounded it since the racial clashes of the 1960s, but failed to do so.
Although both men agree the controversy over the flag may quiet down for a while, neither believes the debate is over.
Clark said the passion of people who strongly oppose the flag will not allow the issue to be silent for long.
Many political and business leaders in Mississippi were predicting serious economic repercussions for the state if the old flag was kept flying over the capitol. Church claims the "scaremongers" are wrong about any economic backlash the state might suffer.
Clark says he fears the state may have isolated itself from some industries, particularly those which have African-American executives at the helm.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at email@example.com.