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Locals react harshly to flag decision

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Nov. 28, 2000
One week after most members of the state flag commission said a new flag design should be adopted, local residents are disagreeing over the proposed idea.
Members of the local chapter of the NAACP called the commission's decision promising.
The 106-year-old state flag has become the target of debate recently because it contains the controversial Confederate Battle Flag in one of its canton corners. Opponents to changing the flag have argued it represents their heritage and the state's history, while others believe it represents oppression and serves as a reminder of slavery for African-Americans.
The 17 commission members appointed by Gov. Ronnie Musgrove to study the flag have held five meetings throughout the state, including in Meridian, to gauge public opinion on the issue. The meetings were anything, but cordial leading to interruptions and name-calling between opposing groups.
Last week, a dozen commission members finally said they were in support of adopting a new flag in spite of the overwhelming majority of people who attended the public hearings were in support keeping the flag.
State Sen. Terry Burton (D-Newton) was one of the few on the commission who questioned whether the state really needed a change. Burton said he also believed voters in the state should be given the authority to vote and decide the flag's future.
Burton's stance for the public to make the decision regarding the flag didn't sit well with Clark, who was outraged by the comments.
Burton could not be reached for comment Monday.
Although Clark said he was relieved the decision came from the commission to design a new flag and to recommend the Legislature adopt it, he doubts whether the state will get a new flag.
Despite the flag commission's decision, a Hinds County judge ruled in October that voters had the right to decide the flag's future by way of a statewide ballot in 2002.
Church said the whole process the commission had gone through before deciding to make a new flag design was seriously flawed.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@meridianstar.com.

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