Harrison County

Mississippi flag debate returns to Harrison County

The state flag of Mississippi is unfurled by Sons of Confederate Veterans and other groups on the grounds of the state Capitol in Jackson in January in support of keeping the Confederate battle emblem on the state flag.
The state flag of Mississippi is unfurled by Sons of Confederate Veterans and other groups on the grounds of the state Capitol in Jackson in January in support of keeping the Confederate battle emblem on the state flag. AP File

The Harrison County Board of Supervisors will once again be asked to take the Mississippi flag down from county-owned buildings.

The Mississippi Rising Coalition will have a rally Monday at the flag pole at the Gulfport courthouse, which normally flies the flag. The rally will be at 9 a.m., a half-hour before the Board of Supervisors meet.

“We went before them last year and they said they would take it under advisement,” said Lea Campbell of Ocean Springs, founder and president of the coalition. “So far, there hasn’t been any movement so we’re going back Monday and ask them again.”

Mark Isaacs, a member of the coalition, is on the agenda to talk about the flag as is James Crowell, president of the Biloxi branch of the NAACP.

So far, no government entity on the Coast has agreed to take down the flag, which has the Confederate battle flag in its canton, the upper left corner.

The Jackson County Board of Supervisors voted 5-1 last year to let the flag fly, with Melton Harrison, the only black supervisor, casting the lone no vote, Campbell said. Hancock County supervisors took the request under advisement.

Delta State is the only public university in Mississippi that still flies the flag. Nineteen other counties and cities have taken it down.

“It takes a certain amount of courage,” Campbell said.

Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn reignited the debate last year when he said the state should change its flag. It’s not uncommon to see a “Change the speaker, not the flag” sign in the rural parts of Harrison County.

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