Politics & Government

Black caucus to boycott legislative conference on Coast over state flag

Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes, D-Gulfport, says many of the state’s black leaders will not attend a regional legislative conference in Biloxi.
Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes, D-Gulfport, says many of the state’s black leaders will not attend a regional legislative conference in Biloxi. Associated Press File

An annual gathering of lawmakers from around the South will get begin July 29 in Biloxi. But the 2017 Southern Legislative Conference will be held without some key legislators from Mississippi.

Mississippi Today reports the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus will not take part in the conference because state lawmakers have not changed the state’s flag.

In a letter to Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, who is chairing the conference, Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes, D-Gulfport, said the black caucus is boycotting the conference because of the state’s continued use of the “Confederate flag.”

Last week, however, Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich ordered the state flag removed from all that city’s facilities. Gilich’s move was somewhat controversial, especially among some City Council members. Councilman Robert Deming III said he will introduce a resolution at the May council meeting to require the city to fly the state flag.

During an appearance Saturday at a voters forum in Gulfport, Williams-Barnes spoke passionately about removing the flag.

“The black caucus has taken up the issue of having the state flag removed,” she said. “In fact, we will soon be going to the city of Gulfport and ask them to remove the flag from city property.”

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