I am hallelujah grateful for the leadership of Speaker Phillip Gunn, Lt. Governor Delbert Hozeman, the Legislative Black Caucus and those State Representators/Senators for finally standing tall and strong and voting to recognize that all Mississippians should be included in the flag that represents us before the entire world. I hope that our joyfulness and gratitude is not offensive to anyone; it surely is not meant to be. To the reader: please know that the old flag, which included the battle flag that rebelled against the United States of America, to maintain the right to enslave other human beings, was a heavy burden on our shoulders. Naturally we wanted to remove that burden from the shoulders of all Mississippians. We believe no one is truly free until everyone is free. Therefore, it is our hope that everyone is relieved and ready to go forward in unity.
Regarding our happiness: there is a caveat. We found no joy in the fact that both of our local representators in the House and Senate voted against leaving the remnants of a divided past behind by voting “no” on changing this symbol. However, their vote speaks loudly and clearly about their leadership for years to come. It has been that kind of message that has kept our dear state last in those things that attract high quality economic development, which would include a variety of modern industry, from seriously considering coming to our state, and more specifically, to Newton County. So, it begs the question: how is it possible to move forward? I believe it requires having earnest and honest discussions among forward leaning citizens including those who primarily make up the constituents of Newton County: Whites, African Americans and Choctaws. We all could add “something of value to the marketplace.” It may not be easy, but it can be accomplished if there is a sincere commitment to getting it done.
Regarding the notion that “the voters must vote on it”: if tough decisions must be left to referendums, why have a Legislative body at all? Why not just put everything on the ballot? Now, I know how ridiculous that sounds, and that’s my point. We believe people are elect and paid very well to do the hard job they are elected to do. Perhaps I will be harshly criticized for this message, but I hope my own (16 year) history of being an elected official in Newton County will speak a clear message of conciliation that I put forward during my tenure. The message here is: we do not want our government to put a heavy burden on anyone by changing the flag (and can’t see how it will), we just need weights of our painful past lifted off our backs. Hopefully that is not too much to hope for. God Bless America!