GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - As state legislators from throughout the South gathered for the opening reception at Barksdale Pavilion in Gulfport, members and supporters of the Mississippi Rising Coalition made their voices heard right across the street.
But, it's not clear if anyone on the other side of the street listened.
"Sometimes, we need to make our voices louder and be heard....it's died in committee every time we've tried to have a conversation, every time we've tried to reach across the aisle to discuss our legitimate concerns," said James Skinner of the Mississippi Rising Coalition. "Maybe this way more focus will be shifted on this issue, then we can start to have a dialogue."
The five-day conference at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum is designed as a forum to discuss regional and national policy. But, members of the Mississippi Black Caucus are boycotting over the state flag issue.
And, the Mississippi Rising Coalition is backing them up.
"It's time for change, and this is what this protest is about," said T. Nathan Fairley of the Coalition. "We're saying it's not a heritage we're all proud of. This is a heritage that we will commemorate in other places, but as a state, we need to embrace the diversity this state achieves and move forward."
WLOX News Now tried to reach out to delegates for a response and to talk about goals for the conference, but was escorted off the Barksdale Pavilion property by security because it was a private event.