Hayes-Davis on Beauvoir: 'It was very painful to leave'

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - An abrupt resignation of the Executive Director at Beauvoir raises questions over the Confederate Battle Flag and vision for the property's future.

On March 3rd, Bertram Hayes-Davis walked out of a Beauvoir board meeting after handing in his resignation.

Hayes-Davis, the great-great-grandson of Jefferson Davis became Executive Director in July of 2012. His decision to step down as Executive Director of Beauvoir was very personal.

"The property has such a close analogy to Jefferson Davis and, of course, my name is on it. It was very painful to leave. At the same time, While you know you are saying something that is not agreed upon by the board, then it's time to take your story someplace else," Hayes-Davis said.

The historic last home of Jefferson Davis and the property on which sits the Presidential Library is owned by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Richard Forte, Chairman of the Boards at Beauvoir, says the SCV sees Beauvoir as a shrine to Confederate soldiers. Part of that mission is displaying confederate symbols like the battle flag.

Davis thinks the flag can be controversial and he wanted to expand the story of Jefferson Davis beyond his years as the President of the Confederacy.

"The battle flag is a small part of that story. The battle flag needs to be addressed as to how it's used at Beauvoir," said Hayes-Davis.

Some have questioned the presence of the Confederate Battle Flag at the shrine. Right now, it is part of a multi-flag display. Three times a year a larger flag flies out in front of the house.

"We put it out on Jefferson Davis' birthday, Confederate Memorial Day and during the annual Fall Muster," said Richard Forte, Chairman of the Board at Beauvoir.

Davis brought in Christmas at Beauvoir and other events that he felt would attract more visitors and encourage broader financial support.

"It showed there are a lot of people who want to support this property. That's not something that is accepted by the current board," Hayes-Davis said.

Beauvoir is facing fiscal challenges and is wrestling with a reduction in the number of visitors.

Forte declined to comment on Haye-Davis' departure, but he did tell WLOX News the board has begun a search for a new Executive Director.

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