The University of Mississippi removed the state flag on its main campus on Monday morning because the banner design includes the Confederate battle emblem, which has come under fire in recent months for symbolizing slavery and segregation.
A student-led resolution had been calling for the removal of the flag, and the removal finally came days after the student senate, the faculty senate, and other groups adopted the resolution. The flag will now be sent to the university’s archives, according to Interim Chancellor Morris Stocks.
Over 200 people had taken part in a remove-the-flag rally on Oct. 16, sponsored by the university chapter of the NAACP.
“As Mississippi’s flagship university, we have a deep love and respect for our state,” Mr. Stocks said in a statement Monday. “I understand the flag represents tradition and honor to some. But to others, the flag means that some members of the Ole Miss family are not welcomed or valued.”
The flag became a lightning rod for controversy in June when a white gunman massacred nine black worshippers during bible study in Charleston, S.C. Police say the attack was racially motivated, and the gunman had been photographed posing in front of the flag. Since the shooting, the flag and other symbols of the Confederacy have been removed from public display across the South.
Writing for The Christian Science Monitor a week after the Charleston massacre, Patrik Jonsson said that the Confederate legacy, once “set in stone” in the South, is now “up for debate like never before.”
“Almost overnight, Americans are deeply questioning the role and permanence of state-sanctioned symbols of a past regime founded on white supremacy in a present multiethnic and pluralistic society,” writes Mr. Jonsson.