Two more Mississippi universities permanently removed the state flag from several locations on campus over the controversial Confederate emblem embedded in the flag, CNN reports.
Mississippi State University and the Mississippi University for Women have now joined five other public universities, including the University of Mississippi, in saying the stars and bars no longer represent the state in the 21st century.
“The flag doesn’t represent to me all the wonderful things that Mississippi stands for. Mississippi doesn’t always have the best national image, and I think the flag and its symbolism are partially responsible for that,” MSU Student Association President Roxanne Raven told the news outlet.
Raven also said removing the flag makes the campus a more “welcoming environment” for all students, and praised MSU President Mark Keenum for his “courageous” decision to accept the many requests to remove the state flag.
Meanwhile, Mississippi University for Women President Dr. Jim Borsig said a decision was made not to replace the state flag after a flagpole was removed for construction.
“The university community supports a flag that unites everyone in the state behind it,” Borsig told the Associated Press, according to ABC News.
Fifteen years ago, 65 percent of Mississippi voters said they wanted to keep the Confederate emblem on the state flag. But the 2015 Charleston massacre of nine Black worshipers by a White supremacist ignited a wave of Confederate flag removals from state grounds.
Unlike South Carolina lawmakers, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and other elected officials have decided to continue displaying the state flag, with its embedded Confederate emblem, prominently on state grounds.
Delta State University is the sole Mississippi public college that has not retired the state flag.
“Delta State continues to fly the State flag out of respect to our relationship with the State of Mississippi, and despite our disagreement with symbols that cause an unfortunate barrier to understanding,” a Delta State spokeswoman told the AP, ABC News reports.
She added, however, that Delta State President Bill LaForge would take down the state flag from campus if his cabinet voted to remove it.