States across the Deep South removed Confederate monuments and flags from public buildings last year, putting to rest a contentious symbol of slavery’s dark legacy. But Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant (R) thinks that is the wrong approach.
Bryant has declared April “Confederate Heritage Month” in his state, a proclamation that a spokesperson for the governor defended Thursday.
“Gov. Bryant believes Mississippi’s history deserves study and reflection, no matter how unpleasant or complicated parts of it may be,” spokesman Clay Chandler told CNN. “Like the proclamation says, gaining insight from our mistakes and successes will help us move forward.”
In the text of the proclamation posted on the governor’s official website, Bryant said Mississippi residents should “earnestly strive to understand our heritage.” The post also is prominently featured on the page for the Mississippi division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as a neo-Confederate group.
The Associated Press reported that the Mississippi legislature missed the deadline this week to act on 19 proposals to change the state flag, which features the Confederate battle emblem. Magnolia State residents who believe the flag should be redesigned held a spirited rally outside the statehouse in January.
A number of other states in the Deep South, including Alabama and South Carolina, elected to remove the Confederate flag from state Capitol buildings after a man with white supremacist sympathies gunned down nine black worshippers last summer at a historic church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina.