/Sports has taught us much Now it unites many of us over the state flag

Sports has taught us much Now it unites many of us over the state flag

Yes, it is. It shouldn’t surprise me that sports are the most visible and compelling reason for change. Recent actions taken by the NCAA, Southeastern Conference, and Conference USA to ban championship sporting events in the state due to the flag have put more pressure on state leaders. The universities didn’t necessarily need more push. They stopped flying the flag many years ago. My entire life has been spent covering Mississippi sports. This state is incredibly passionate about its athletes and athletic teams. Mississippi is a small state with a rural population, so sports are a popular topic. Our country is often the leader in pro-football and its Pro Football Hall of Fame. Our college baseball teams often rank among the best in the country. These games are attended by a large number of citizens. The passion shown by our citizens for the games is astounding to coaches and players from other states. Mississippi sports bring people together. We know this better than anyone who has lived through integration in our schools. Sports showed the way in many cases, and in most Mississippi communities. Sport showed us that both black and white children could play together, and work together to achieve greater success than their peers. Sports taught us that skin color is not everything. It is hard work and teamwork that are most important. Small towns like Mize, Weir, Pelahatchie, and Mount Olive saw black and white children come together to win big. We are proud to have seen the “Remember the Titans”, real-life stories from the state. The state is home to 38 percent African Americans. Yet, the state flag is a reminder of the war to keep slavery, the institution that people own people, alive. Please don’t tell us that the flag with its Confederate battle emblem represents our heritage. This is so much bull waste. Mississippi seceded the United States because, as our leaders wrote, “Our position was thoroughly identified with slavery -the greatest material interest in all of the world.” This is right there in plain sight in Mississippi’s declaration to secession. It’s easy to see. It was nearly three decades ago that the flag now flies above our Capitol. After the period of Reconstruction, it was passed through the legislature without any referendum. It was intended to show black people who was still in control. It was used as a rallying point by Jim Crow. If you don’t remember what it was, look it up. The battle flag emblem is now used by hate groups, from the Ku Klux Klan to Skinheads and Nazis. The flag still flies above the capitol of Mississippi. Mississippi, we have the potential to do better. We can do better. This can be done by the Legislature. Keep your head up. Stand up. Make a difference.