JACKSON — Two weeks before the Mississippi Legislature allowed 19 state flag bills to die in committee, Gov. Phil Bryant took out a pen and signed an official governor’s proclamation, declaring the month of April “Confederate Heritage Month.”
The proclamation, which does not appear on the State of Mississippi’s website with other proclamations, such as about emergency inclement weather, is posted on the website of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which is ferociously against changing the Mississippi flag to remove the Confederate battle flag—which supporters like to call the “Beauregard flag”—from its canton.
SCV is also an organization that pushes revisionist history about the Civil War and the reasons the Confederacy formed, such as selling books by James Ronald Kennedy and his twin brother Walter Donald Kennedy at Jefferson Davis’ Gulf Coast home, Beauvoir, which SCV manages. The Kennedy brothers founded the League of the South. These organizations stand in strong denial of the reasons the Confederates themselves said they seceded, joined the Confederacy and started the war—to maintain slavery, extend it to new states and force the return of fugitive slaves who had made their way to free states.
On Bryant’s gubernatorial letterhead, the proclamation starts out by explaining that April is the appropriate month to honor Confederate heritage because it “is the month in which the Confederate States began and ended a four-year struggle.” It adds that the state celebrates Confederate Memorial Day on April 25 to “recognize those who served in the Confederacy.”
It then explains that it is “important for all Americans to reflect upon our nation’s past” and “to gain insight from our mistakes and successes,” adding that we must “earnestly strive to understand and appreciate our heritage and our opportunities which lie before us.”
Bryant refuses to take a position on changing the Mississippi flag, saying it should be up to the voters, who decided in 2001 to leave the old flag in place, in a vote that fell largely along racial lines.
Mississippi, along with Arkansas and Alabama, also celebrate Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s birthday on the same day as the federal Martin Luther King Jr. birthday in January.
Ironically, a war-weary Gen. Lee said after the Civil War ended that its symbols, including flags, should be put “in your attics.” That is the last thing the Sons of Confederate Veterans, or Phil Bryant for that matter, clearly intend to do.
Bryant has apparently made the same declaration in past years. Here is one from 2012 on the Mississippi United Daughters of the Confederacy website, discussion on the Dixie Outfitters website and on the American Renaissance website in 2013. Read more about Jared Taylor and American Renaissance here, as well as in this Jackson Free Press article about the network of organizations that influenced Dylann Roof.
View 50 alternative Mississippi flag designs submitted by Jackson Free Press readers since July 2015.