MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A vote to change the Mississippi state flag could be coming by the end of the week. The latest to speak out against the state flag which includes the Confederate emblem are dozens of the state’s collegiate coaches.
Coaches said this issue effects their players, as well as the communities these colleges are in -- both economically and emotionally. They said changing the flag is good for Mississippi athletics and the moral thing to do.
“It’s an opportunity for our state, the state I grew up in, to make change for the better,” University of Mississippi Men’s Basketball Coach Kermit Davis said.
Dozens of college athletic coaches are getting in the game when it comes to the Mississippi state flag. The group from colleges across the state met with Senate and House legislators in Jackson Thursday to urge them to change the flag.
“As a Black woman coaching at one of the most diverse universities in the country, I look forward to seeing change that unites us,” Mississippi State Women’s Basketball Coach Nikki McCray said.
The coaches are the latest to come out against the flag. State church organizations and business leaders also used this week to speak in favor of changing the flag.
Earlier this month, the NCAA and SEC said they would not hold post season events in the state without a new flag. That could lead to ramifications, coaches said, that would reach farther than any court of field.
“How it affects our towns and cities economically, how it affects student enrollment,” Davis said.
“We can’t be an elite program without hosting post season events,” McCray said.
Many lawmakers and Mississippians agree. The latest poll by the Mississippi Economic Council shows 55 percent of likely voters are in favor of a change. The first time the majority have been in favor.
In 2001, changing the flag was on the ballot, but voters chose to keep it as is.
House Speaker Philip Gunn wants something changed sooner rather than later.
“This is bigger than athletics,” Gunn said. “This is the image of the state of Mississippi and what we’re going to stand for.”
Speaker Gunn has come out in favor of a change to the flag. He said he wants this issue resolved by the end of the week.
Governor Tate Reeves has maintained he’d like to see voters decide this issue. However, he said legislators are poised to vote to suspend rules and change the flag. He said if that happens, he would not veto the decision.