Anti-slav­ery rally erupts in US

Lesotho Times - - International -

JACK­SON — Civil-rights leader Myr­lie Evers-wil­liams, Mis­sis­sippi-born rap­per David Ban­ner and a prom­i­nent South Car­olina law­maker are call­ing on Mis­sis­sippi to re­move the Con­fed­er­ate bat­tle em­blem of the pro-slav­ery South dur­ing the US Civil War from its state flag.

About 400 peo­ple took part in a changethe-flag rally on Sun­day out­side the Mis­sis­sippi Capi­tol. No al­ter­na­tive de­sign was pro­posed.

Three men hold­ing large flags with var­i­ous Con­fed­er­ate em­blems watched the rally from a dis­tance across the Capi­tol lawn.

Crit­ics say the Mis­sis­sippi flag is a di­vi­sive re­minder of slav­ery and seg­re­ga­tion and doesn’t rep­re­sent a state where 38 per­cent of the 2.9 mil­lion res­i­dents are black. Sup­port­ers say they see the Con­fed­er­ate em­blem as a sym­bol of his­tory and her­itage.

The em­blem — a blue X with 13 white stars, over a red field - has been on Mis­sis­sippi’s flag since 1894, and vot­ers chose to keep it in 2001. But the mas­sacre of nine black wor­ship­pers in June at a church in Charleston, South Car­olina, has re­newed de­bate about the pub­lic dis­play of Con­fed­er­ate sym­bols.

Po­lice said the mass shoot­ing in Charleston was racially mo­ti­vated, and the sus­pect had pre­vi­ously posed for pho­tos with the rebel flag.

South Car­olina state Rep. Jenny Horne said on Sun­day that Mis­sis­sippi is hurt­ing its own econ­omy by keep­ing the bat­tle em­blem on the state flag.

“It is a new South. The eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties that Mis­sis­sippi is miss­ing out on — you don’t even know it, but it’s cost­ing all cit­i­zens jobs,” said Horne, who gave an im­pas­sioned speech in July as South Car­olina law­mak­ers voted to re­move a Con­fed­er­ate bat­tle flag from the State­house grounds in Columbia.

Evers-wil­liams was chairperson of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for the Ad­vance­ment of Coloured Peo­ple from 1995 to 1998 and is the widow of Medgar Evers, the Mis­sis­sippi NAACP leader who was as­sas­si­nated out­side their fam­ily’s Jack­son home in 1963. At the rally on Sun­day, she noted that Con­fed­er­ate Gen­eral Robert E Lee had dis­tanced him­self from Con­fed­er­ate sym­bols af­ter the South lost the Civil War.

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