In a full page ad appearing in the Clarion Ledger, a who’s-who of notable Mississippians and southerners — including actor Morgan Freeman, best selling author John Grisham, and singer Jimmy Buffett — called upon state lawmakers to remove the Confederate flag symbol from the state flag.
The Mississippi currently features what is called the Confederate “battle flag” symbol in the top left hand corner next to three red, white, and blue bars.
In the letter, the group writes, “It is simply not fair, or honorable, to ask black Mississippians to attend schools, compete in athletic events, work in the public sector, serve in the National Guard, and go about their normal lives with a state flag that glorifies a war fought to keep their ancestors enslaved,” before adding: “It’s time for Mississippi to fly a flag for all its people.”
Besides Freeman, Grisham, and Buffet, other signatories to the letter include “The Help” author Kathryn Stockett, football icon SArchie Manning, Former Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale, former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford, Grammy-winning producer Glen Ballard, Basketball Hall of Famer Bailey Howell and former Gov. William Winter.
Republican Governor Phil Bryant has previously dismissed removing the Confederate symbol, stating that the voters of Mississippi voted to keep the flag as it is in 2001.
According to popular author Greg Iles — who also signed the letter — 2001 was a long time ago.
“Think of America in 1931 and then in 1945 — that’s 14 years, and a tectonic shift in national identity. Think of 1961 and 1975,” he said. “The Confederate flag is no longer a viable state or national symbol in 2015.”
Under public pressure following the church shooting in Charleston, lawmakers in South Carolina recently voted to take down the Confederate flag that flew on the state capital grounds.