Flag Battle: Is There a Next Step?

With such a wide margin favoring the current flag, you would think that would be the end of the debate. But that depends on who you talk to. Some say it's time to move on, others say the battle is far from over.

65% of Mississippians went to the polls Tuesday and said the flag, with its Confederate battle emblem should keep flying, just as it has since 1894. Banker Chevis Swetman says business leaders who pushed for the new design gave it their best shot, but Swetman concedes the voters have spoken. "We had the opportunity to change the image. Most of the people said that this is what they consider historical in trying to preserve something of the past. Again, we would like to have changed the image to some extent but when you get a two to one vote against, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out. It's all over but the shouting."

Attorney Melvin Cooper couldn't disagree more. He says as long as the flag flies, it sends out a bad image of Mississippi to the rest of the country.  Cooper says "It sent out an invitation for the ghosts to revisit Mississippi. The fact is a lot of blacks, African Americans and some whites feel very strongly that that flag is reprehensible. It's offensive and it's objectionable."

Mississippi's NAACP president says he will talk with national leaders about an economic boycott of the state. Cooper says that kind of talk is a little premature, but he thinks something will happen. "I'm sure with the state conference as well as the national gettin' together, I'm sure there will be a plan. What that plan is I have no idea at this particular time," Cooper says.

From a historic perspective, Beauvoir Director Bob Hawkins says the huge margin favoring the flag doesn't speak highly of those touting a new flag. "But everybody can look at the leaders, some of the leaders in this state, from the governor right on down to business groups and wonder how they can be so out of touch with 65-percent of their own population," Hawkins says.