PASCAGOULA -- Jackson County supervisors on Monday afternoon voted to keep flying the state flag on county property and at county buildings.
The vote was 4-1.
In a resolution, they referred to a previous statewide vote 2001 to keep the flag and said that until the state addresses the issue, the county will continue to fly the flag.
Board President Melton Harris, who is black, strongly opposed the vote. The others, who are white, Barry Cumbest, Troy Ross, Ken Taylor and Randy Bosarge voted for it.
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Curley Clark with the NAACP said he was disappointed in the county's missed opportunity to lead in the movement to take down the flag and pointed out that today's vote along racial lines shows how divisive the flag is.
The vote came after a month of considering the issue and the legalities of taking down the flag and after an hour of impassioned arguments from both sides.
The NAACP and the group One Mississippi Flag for All asked Jackson County leaders last month to take down the flag because of the Confederate battle emblem on it -- a reminder of slavery, racism and the Civil War. They asked other county Boards of Supervisors as well, but only Jackson County agreed to vote.
On Monday, a stream of people came before the board to renew that request. There were also representatives from the Sons of the Confederacy and others who said the flag represents history and heritage and that the flag is a state issue, not one for the county to decide. Also, retirees with the Singing River Health System county hospitals said they would like people who oppose the injustice of the flag to also consider supporting them in their fight with the county about the injustice of their lost pension.
Jackson County supervisors said last month they would consider the legalities involved in flying the flag. They wanted to know if there was a state mandate for counties to fly the flag, as there is for school districts. "The law says basically you have to treat the state flag with all the respect you would the federal flag," Taylor said. "There is no county flag. There is a state flag. You need to have our governor ... and have them address it."
Tayor said he believes the majority of "constituents of Jackson County are for keeping it up and letting the state handle the issue."
Clark rallied with others from along the Coast before the meeting to hold a prayer vigil.