JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Mississippi state flag will continue flying over Jackson County owned or controlled property. The vote was 4-1, with Board President Melvin Harris Jr being the only supervisor to support removing the flag.
The board has had weeks to deliberate the issue since it was first brought to them in February. But in the end, they decided it's up to the state to make any decision regarding the state flag.
"Today, with the actions taken by the Jackson County Board of Supervisors, it makes me wonder if we've made a lot of progress as far as race relations are concerned here in Mississippi, here in Jackson County, here on the Gulf Coast," said Jackson County NAACP president Curley Clark.
Clark led the push for the flag removal.
"I came here optimistic, but now I'm somewhat dismayed," Clark said.
For nearly an hour prior to the vote, there was public comment from people on both sides of the flag debate. Those who support the current flag say it's a mark of history. They also say flying the flag shows respect for the state. If you take the flag down, you shouldn't receive state funds.
Others were quick to tear that logic down. They say the current flag is divisive and blocks industries and colleges from wanting to come to Mississippi.
"Frankly, these days its a symbol of racism, its a symbol of bigotry, and its hateful to a large number of people," said Pastor Ashley Beaty-Perry.
In the end, it was Supervisor Ken Taylor who used the law to justify his decision. He quoted Mississippi Code of 1972 which states: "The state flag shall receive all of the respect and ceremonious etiquette given the American flag."
Taylor said under this code, the county, by law, has to fly the state flag.
Flag supporters say they are relieved by the action of the board. But those in favor of a new flag, say they won't let this setback keep them from fighting.
"The NAACP, we're gonna be vigilant in trying to get the state flag changed. And before we can get it changed, we're gonna try and get it removed from municipalities and county owned buildings, because they're operated by our tax dollars," said Clark.
The NAACP's next step is to go to other counties on the coast to try and get them to remove the flag.