Former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove reflects on seeing flag change vote 19 years after referendum vote

Updated: Jun. 29, 2020 at 9:45 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -Former Governor Ronnie Musgrove points to timing as to what he believes as the tipping point for getting the state flag changed.

He believes George Floyd’s murder and the movement for change following along with public pressure is what got it done.

“Sure I paid a personal and political price for it when we dealt with it two decades ago,” said Musgrove. “However, the state has been paying the price for 126 years to have a flag that didn’t really represent all of us. I am really glad that it passed.”

But the way it’s transpiring this time is different.

“This is kind of a reversal of what happened 19 years ago,” added Musgrove. “Then, the Governor wanted to change the flag and the legislative leadership was opposed.”

And that’s what led to the formation of the commission and eventual 2001 referendum vote.

“My son said you were just 19 years ahead of your time,” Musgrove explained. “I said, I wish I hadn’t been. I wish I had been on track with the times and that we could’ve changed it. But nonetheless, it’s a step forward for us and I believe it will be a step forward for everybody.”

Among the groups putting that pressure on the legislature was the business community and the Mississippi Economic Council.

“It’s been an issue on our agenda for a number of years, particularly the last four or five years that we had to be thinking about... Ok how do we make this happen?” asked MEC President/CEO Scott Waller.

And they created the It’s Time campaign.

“A lot of our economic development leaders believed this was going to be an impediment that would be removed that will make their jobs easier to sell Mississippi and all the great things about our state,” said Waller.

“We will never know how many business opportunities, job opportunities we lost because we didn’t change the flag 19 years ago,” added Musgrove.

We also received a statement from former Governor Phil Bryant.

“Mississippi has long valued our faith above all things,” said Bryant. “We now have the opportunity to send a message of hope to the entire nation that here in Mississippi, ‘In God We Trust.‘”

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