Your Turn—The Confederate Flag: A View from Tougaloo

The Tougaloo College family shares the pain of America's tragedy that occurred at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. We pray, along with the rest of the world, for the families who lost their loved ones in the senseless act of racial violence this past July, and for the healing that is sorely needed for the families, South Carolina and our nation. We have followed the debate and commentary on the removal of the Confederate flag, as we have watched old wounds open that so many people of goodwill have worked to heal. As leaders of the historic Tougaloo College, we are sensitive to the significance of history, the imperative of inclusion and consideration for diversity and divergent opinions. However, the Confederate flag has become a divisive matter and seriously threatens the unification of the people of our state as much as the Jim Crow laws divided us.

Tougaloo College is an institution that has a long-standing history of advancing social change and breaking down barriers of separatism that limit individuals and societies. Through the transformative power of education, we have consistently worked to build a more humane, just, peaceful and inclusive world for all humankind. As Tougaloo College took a stand during the most turbulent years of our state's history to be a safe haven, a voice and spirit of reason, and a bridge of humanity to bring people together to effect a new social order, we are standing today with those who are calling for the removal of the emblem of the Confederate battle flag from our state flag.

It is time for men and women of vision and goodwill to stand together again—lend their voices to the debate—and inspiringly convince our governor and other elected officials that the time has come to remove the emblem of the Confederate battle flag from our state flag. We need to draw the curtains on a painfully dark and disturbing past that clouds the present and dims the future potential of our state and identify another locale to observe the role of the Confederacy in Mississippi's history.

The Confederate flag, notwithstanding the sordid past representation of treason, pro-slavery, white supremacy and racial oppression, flown in present day reality, sends a negative message that obstructs progressive 21st-century social and cultural values. As part of the United States of America, our state is immersed in a globalized economy. And, our state's continued waving of the Confederate battle flag is an indicator that our dark past is more prevailing than our bright future.

Beverly W. Hogan, president at Tougaloo College; Wesley F. Prater, M.D., Chairman, Board of Trustees


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