Faith Hill calls for change to Mississippi state flag
One of Mississippi's most prominent natives is calling for a change to the state flag.
Country music superstar Faith Hill wrote a Twitter thread on Thursday addressed to the legislature of her home state in which she calls for the removal of the Confederate battle flag emblem from Mississippi's state flag.
Hill, 52, who was raised in the small town of Star, wrote that the current flag is "a direct symbol of terror" for Black residents, who make up 38% of the state's population.
"To the Mississippi legislature: It's time to change the state flag," she wrote. "I am a proud MS girl and I love my home state. When I think of Mississippi, I think of my mom and dad, the church I grew up in, high school football, and where I fell in love with music.
"I understand many view the current flag as a symbol of heritage and Southern pride, but we have to realize that this flag is a direct symbol of terror for our black brothers and sisters."
To the Mississippi legislature: It’s time to change the state flag.
I am a proud MS girl and I love my home state. When I think of Mississippi, I think of my mom and dad, the church I grew up in, high school football, and where I fell in love with music.
— Faith Hill (@FaithHill) June 25, 2020
Hill urged the legislature to vote on Friday for a new flag "that represents ALL of the citizens of Mississippi."
Mississippi is the only state whose flag still contains the Confederate emblem, which many see as racist. The emblem became part of the state flag in 1894 when white supremacists in the Mississippi Legislature voted to add it as a backlash for the political power Black citizens gained during Reconstruction after the Civil War, according to The Associated Press.
Gov. Tate Reeves said Wednesday that he would not stand in opposition if a majority of state legislators vote to change the flag, but he prefers having a statewide election to let voters choose the flag design. Some legislators have suggested substituting the words "In God We Trust" for the Confederate emblem.
"Make no mistake, a vote to change the rules is a vote to change the flag. If they get those votes, a veto would be pointless," Reeves wrote on Facebook. "That debate would be over, and the flag would change."
Lane Kiffin, the new head coach of the University of Mississippi football team, and Mike Leach, the new head coach of the Mississippi State football team, both addressed the state legislature on Thursday asking for the flag to be changed. Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill, a Mississippi native, also tweeted that he would not "be representing this state any more" until the flag is changed.
The NCAA and Southeastern Conference each announced last week that no NCAA postseason events would be played in Mississippi until the state flag is changed.
"We removed the flag from our campus five years ago, so we've made it clear that it doesn't represent who we are at Ole Miss," Kiffin told ESPN. "Today is another big step in doing our part to move the state forward and ensure a more welcoming environment for everyone. This is extremely important to me and to our players. Time to change!"
The calls for the change come amid worldwide protests against racial injustice, including one in Jackson, Mississippi on June 6 in which one of the organizers, 18-year-old Maisie Brown, called for "the removal of all Confederate symbols and memorabilia," according to the AP.
Confederate statues have also been toppled in states across the country, and references to the Civil War-era South and its connotation with slavery have been changed in everything from Aunt Jemima syrup to the country bands formerly known as the Dixie Chicks and Lady Antebellum.
NASCAR has also banned the Confederate flag from appearing at any of its races, and Walmart has removed Mississippi's state flag from outside its stores in the Magnolia state.