Tuesday marks National Flag Day, which celebrates the moment America adopted the U.S. flag. But the day is taking on a special meaning for Black folks in Mississippi.
Mississippi is the only state in the United States that continues to fly a Confederate emblem on its flag and the fight to bring it down has reached the nation’s capital.
Actress Aunjanue Ellis and rapper Genesis Be joined Roland Martin on NewsOne Now to discuss Tuesday’s rally #TakeItDownAmerica, which calls for the Confederate battle emblem to be removed from the statehouse flag.
Be, whose grandfather was killed by KKK members for protecting Black voters, told Martin, “Growing up in Mississippi it’s hurtful, it’s almost traumatic and triggering to see that symbol being flown.”
“When I see my co-workers and my neighbors not acknowledging that hurtful part of the history, it’s almost like how can we move forward if you won’t even acknowledge it?”
Ellis addressed the refrain that equates the Confederate battle emblem as a symbol of heritage and not hate. She said, “Heritage and hate are not antonyms. It is a heritage of hate and also heritage is shared.”
“That heritage that you are proud of, that’s my heritage as well, the difference is your forefathers and foremothers were burning crosses, and my heritage is that I’m the yard that you burn the cross on.”
Martin reminded viewers when the South surrendered and ended the Civil War in 1865, it was General Robert E. Lee who ordered Confederate soldiers to store the flag in attics and never have it appear again. It wasn’t until the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s that the flag reemerged.
According to Ellis, the reemergence of the Confederate battle emblem was an attempt to “put African-Americans in their place.”
She later added if individuals want to display the battle flag as a form of “personal expression,” she is OK with that, but added the caveat that the American tax payers “shouldn’t pay for it.”
“The reality in Mississippi is that comes out of our tax paying money.”
Be explained much of Mississippi’s economy is based on tourism and as a result of the Confederate battle emblem, their economy is suffering.
Watch Roland Martin, actress Aunjanue Ellis, and rapper Genesis Be discuss the #TakeItDownAmerica rally and the symbolism of the Confederate battle emblem in the video clip above.
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