Beauvoir leader says the Confederate flag will continue to fly

Published: Jun. 24, 2015 at 9:45 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 25, 2015 at 9:54 AM CDT
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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It is all political and it is not coming down at Beauvoir. That's Executive Director Greg Stewart's take on the controversy over the Confederate flag.

"Those people are serious about robbing us of our pride and our history," Stewart said.

Stewart feels passionate about the confederate flag.

"At Beauvoir, it obviously drives tourism," Stewart said. "People come here and if you have time to watch what they take pictures of, because I do. They don't take pictures of me, they don't take pictures of plants so much, they love that battle flag, and they like to pose with it. You would be surprised at some of those people who pose in the pictures."

Stewart does not believe the flag is a symbol of racism.

"There are plenty of Confederate flags. That was the one misused by the Klan," Stewart said. "But the favorite flag of the Klan is the American flag, and I think it still is. So I guess the question the public should be asking is, when you are done burying this one, is your United States flag next?"

As long as Stewart is at Beauvoir, he said the flag will fly.

"I'm firm on that," Stewart said. "I know what the draw is, I see what brings people in here. You could take it down and it would just be an antebellum home and it would have the same draw as Grass Lawn, which I don't see people piling up to go see."

Even those visiting the last home of the president of the Confederacy have mixed feelings about the flag.

Brad DeCorte said, "As a flag itself on government property, I kind of feel like that time is over."

DeCorte finds the flag offensive.

"I know it has caused problems," DeCorte said. "I'm a school teacher down in Florida and it has caused problems at the school for people who wave the flag. So it is kind of divisive and has caused serious problems and fights."

Rebecca Ladnier and her son had a different take on the flag.

"I don't really think about it; it doesn't offend me," Ladnier said. "I think it should be allowed to be flown in the proper context."

"I don't think it's racist," Jordan Ladnier said. "It's a part of history and it should stay."

The tragedy in South Carolina sparked the latest controversy over the Confederate flag, but Stewart said it is not the first time there has been a push to remove the flag.

"It was a perfect story. They had that horrible, horrible event where those nine innocent people were slaughtered in a Christian church, and then South Carolina positioned themselves in the presidential election," Stewart said. "I don't think anyone would argue it's good public policy to make a sweeping change in a matter of a couple of weeks, but it's all been driven by a motion."

As far as changing Mississippi's flag, Stewart said that was discussed and voted on in 2001.

"Speaker Gun was in law school, or just getting out of law school. He was not in the legislature and not involved at all," Stewart said. "So somebody should have told him what will happen out in the country side. And what happens with these guys in Jackson is they get up there, they attend luncheons with each other and it becomes a bubble, and they forget about the folk."

When it came to a vote, Stewart said Mississippians kept the symbol on the flag.

"Black Mississippians, in particular, sent a message," Stewart said. "For one thing, they didn't show up at the polls. Not at the numbers that anyone expected. The other thing was even with the numbers they showed up with, they voted for the old flag."

"Maybe we will get to that place that there's not that much emotion attached to it and political agendas attached to it. That's my hope," Stewart said. "I hope we can get through this with what's going on right now, without tearing things down and forgetting our history."

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