There was a packed house inside USM Gulf Park’s Hardy Hall for a panel discussion and public forum to discuss the Mississippi state flag, which contains the Confederate emblem, on February 9, 2017. Associate professor of history Dr. Douglas Bristol organized the discussion after being approached by Lea Campbell, with the Mississippi Rising Coalition.

“What I’m hoping is that people will see there are many different perspectives on this flag, and they’ll leave here having more arguments in their head than they came with,” said Douglas.

Those who want the flag changed said it represents a dark past in Mississippi. “Why can’t we sit down and come up with a flag that’s agreeable with everybody,” said panelist James Crowell, who is the President of the Biloxi Chapter of the NAACP. “It is a relic whose place is in the halls of museums, not flown above public places or used as a representation of a melting pot of people that call Mississippi home,” said one woman.

Representatives of the Mississippi division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Dixie Alliance spoke in favor of keeping the current state flag design.

Watch comments made by each of the panelists here: