Supporters of the recently abolished Mississippi state flag converged on the steps of the Alcorn County Courthouse on Saturday afternoon.
Attended by around 150 people, Mississippi Stands was a peaceful rally with law enforcement present. Standing within close contact under the shade of towering Oak trees in downtown Corinth, the majority of the crowd went without face coverings and did not practice CDC social distancing recommendations.
With a variety of Confederate emblem flags blowing in the wind, group supporter Kevin Nelms said the event was held to bring attention to the statewide effort to collect signatures for a referendum that would allow residents to vote to reinstate the 126-year-old state flag.
“It’s time that we take a stand,” said Nelms, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. “It’s time we fight, because we are going to have to fight to get our flag back.”
Mississippi lawmakers and the governor voted June 28 to retire the last state flag in the U.S. with the Confederate emblem as the state faced increasing pressure amid nationwide protests against racial injustice.
The vote happened more than a century after legislators adopted the flag design which includes a red field topped by a blue X with 13 white stars. In a 2001 statewide election, voters chose to keep the flag.
“Our rights are being taken away from us – that’s really what it’s all about here,” added Nelms, who said the flag represents his heritage.
According to state lawmakers, a commission to design a new flag that cannot include the Confederate symbol and that must have the words “In God We Trust” will be created and voters will be asked to approve the new design in the Nov. 3 election. If they reject it, the commission will set a different design using the same guidelines, and that would be sent to voters later.
On Saturday, Nelms told people to “vote no on every single flag design until the right flag” returns to the ballot.