Ole Miss Removes State Flag from Campus

Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN, October 26, 2015

The University of Mississippi has removed the state flag from campus, according to a university statement issued Monday.

The move comes after student senators voted 33-15 with one abstention last week to ask the school administration to furl the banner, which includes the Confederate battle emblem in its upper left corner.

“University of Mississippi Police Department officers lowered and furled the state flag in a Lyceum Circle ceremony as the campus opened Monday morning,” a school statement said. “The flag will be preserved in the University Archives along with resolutions from students, faculty and staff calling for its removal.”

Like many students and observers, Buka Okoye, president of the school’s NAACP chapter, had the impression that the school wouldn’t act on the student senators’ vote until a new chancellor was appointed. The NAACP was in the process of organizing a march in two weeks to pressure the university administration to take down the flag immediately. He was “shocked” to learn the school had removed the banner Monday, he said.

“It was huge that the university came on the right side,” he said. “That was huge for me. It really shows me how much the university has progressed.”

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The next step for him and the NAACP chapter is to pressure the university to do something about the obelisk honoring “Confederate dead” that is located in the area of campus known as The Circle, where the state flag flew. The monument has been there since 1906.

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Allen Coon, a student senator and president of the College Democrats who was at the forefront of the fight to take down the flag, told CNN he, too, was surprised and elated by the decision.

“They didn’t announce anything. They did it early this morning,” he said. “The leadership acted swiftly, and despite the opposition from the governor, who two days ago said college students act emotionally, they took it down. It’s exciting.”

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The vote by the Ole Miss student senators follows a decision by aldermen in Oxford, where Ole Miss is located, to remove the flag from city property in August. That was around the same time actor Morgan Freeman, author John Grisham, musician Jimmy Buffett and others signed a letter calling on the state to come up with a new flag.

Other Mississippi cities–including Macon, Columbus, Grenada, Magnolia, Hattiesburg, Clarksdale, Starkville, Yazoo City and Greenwood–have voted or issued executive orders to remove the state flag from city property since the Charleston shooting. (Conversely, the cities of Petal and Gautierhave voted since the massacre to keep the flag flying.)

The City Council in the state capital, Jackson, which hasn’t flown the state flag on city property in more than a decade, voted in July to urge the state to create a new flag, CNN affiliate WAPT reported.

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The Ole Miss vote is also in line with the stances of three other public state universities that don’t fly the flag on their campuses: Jackson State University, Mississippi Valley State University and Alcorn State University.

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