New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy broke a long-standing tradition to raise the flags of all the 50 states at Liberty State Park, leaving the Mississippi flag out and replacing it with the American one.
According to Gov. Murphy, a Democrat, the change was necessary because of the Confederate battle emblem on the upper left corner of the Magnolia state's flag. It features a red field topped by a blue X along with 13 white stars on a red background.
As Murphy pointed out, Mississippi is the only U.S. state to keep the controversial character on its flag since 1894. Gov. Murphy explained in a Twitter post that the Confederate symbols on the Mississippi flag ''did not match New Jersey's values of inclusivity and equality.'' The Governor also expressed his gratitude to Democratic state Sen. Sandra Cunningham who raised the question with him.
In return, Cunningham commented that the current state flag symbolized times of ''hate, violence, and division.'' In her view, such hateful symbols have no home in New Jersey.
Contrary to his Democratic counterparts, Mississippi's Republican Gov. Phil Bryant expressed criticized the move saying that the voters of Mississippi should determine what the flag is or is not.
The Confederate symbols have become widely discussed issues in the South, especially since the South Carolina church massacre in 2015. On June 15, 2015, the 21-year-old Dylann Roof attacked a church in Charleston, shooting dead nine Afro-American worshipers.
On August 12, 2017, the 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr., a white nationalist from Ohio drove his car into a crowd of peacefully protesting people in Charlottesville, Virginia. He killed one and injured 28 bystanders.
Phil Bryant recently proposed a measure to allow the so-called Stennis flag, to be legally authorized for a license plate in the state. The state lawmakers have made numerous attempts to have the current flag replaced by the Stennis one, but none have made it to the chamber for voting.
Many local prominent politicians, some of which are running for state office are calling for the flag to be changed. One of them, Attorney General candidate Andy Taggart commented that the current flag represents the state's history of slavery and segregation. According to Taggart, it does not unify the locals.
Back in 2001, the Mississippians voted in a statewide election to keep the current flag. However, the increasing criticism against it has made numerous cities and all eight of the local public universities to stop flying it.
What is your opinion? Do you think that the Mississippians should change their flag despite the controversies?