Editorial Roundup: Mississippi

Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

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Oct. 28

The Greenwood Commonwealth on the vote for a new state flag in Mississippi:

Mississippians have a chance to vote for a new flag next Tuesday. We should seize the chance to close a chapter on our history and move forward. It’s the right thing to do.

The previous state flag, which was retired by the Legislature earlier this year in response to the nationwide reckoning on race, incorporated the Confederate battle flag.

Mississippi was the last state to officially distance itself from a symbol of the worst chapter of American history, and voters can finish this long-overdue process by approving the “In God We Trust” flag, more commonly known as the magnolia flag.

Although it’s true that a majority of most Mississippians, when viewing the former flag, thought little about its associations with slavery and segregation, that’s not true for everyone. A substantial minority of our population found the Confederate battle flag offensive, a sentiment that was also shared by many from outside the state.

Defenders of the former flag say it is not a tribute to racism but to the fallen dead from the Civil War, who fought bravely and suffered greatly, even if it was largely for an abhorrent cause. However, even Confederate General Robert E. Lee warned after the war against clinging to traditions and memories that will only divide the people and make reconciliation more difficult. Declining an invitation in 1869 to a commemoration of the pivotal battle at Gettysburg, Lee wrote, “I think it wiser, moreover, not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered.”

Our state is known as “The Hospitality State,” a good motto indeed. But what kind of hospitality prominently displays an emblem that is offensive to a sizable number who see it? Changing the flag is just good manners. A flag should be inclusive, not divisive.

The old flag was also bad for business. Mississippi is right smack dab in the middle of the fastest- growing region of the greatest country in the history of the world. Growth and prosperity will come naturally and rapidly as long as we don’t wave a big “outsiders not welcome” sign. It is for this reason that nearly every major business organization in this state has endorsed the change.

The magnolia flag is beautiful. It was selected by a specially appointed commission that received thousands of submissions, allowed the public to vote on them, and eventually whittled down the possibilities to one winner that incorporated the best elements from different submissions. A Greenwood native, Sue Anna Joe, played a big part in the winning design, as it was her rendering of the magnolia flower that is the focal point of the flag. Nobody can blame the design or the way it was selected.

Mississippi’s sense of tradition is a wonderful attribute of our state, but just like all good traits, the flip side can cause problems. When our good sense of tradition causes us to cling to a flag that divides us and no longer represents who we are, then we must depart from tradition and move on. Now is the time to do it.

Let’s vote overwhelmingly for the new flag. Let’s have a beautiful flag that represents our hope for the future, not our bitterness for the past.

Online: https://www.gwcommonwealth.com/

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Oct. 28

The Commercial Dispatch on different projects being considered by the Board of Aldermen in Starkville, Mississippi:

Success often means looking beyond present circumstances.

Even now, as communities all over brace for what could be a devastating second wave of COVID-19 and the fallout it would represent, there is value in looking ahead to a time when the pandemic no longer dominates our thoughts.

For the past month, the Starkville Board of Aldermen have used work sessions to consider post-pandemic possibilities for the city.

At the urging of Rep. Rob Roberson, the mayor and aldermen have established a list of priorities for money from the state legislature’s bond program.

While it is difficult to project how much -- if any -- bond money will be made available to communities during the 2021 legislative session which begins in January, having a list of projects available for their local legislators to pre-file in December is a first important step in the process.

Over the past month, aldermen have considered a long list of possibilities, including relocating the county jail, building a parking garage downtown, improving the city’s drainage system and relocating a fire station.

On Tuesday, the list was narrowed down to three projects: The board’s top priority will be the potential relocation of the Starkville-Oktibbeha County Public Library from its 60-year-old building on University Drive to the stretch of Highway 182 that will be revamped in the next few years with federal grant money. The board also will look into the options of bringing a YMCA to Starkville and extending Stark and Hospital roads to connect them to state highways on the west side of the city.

The preferred projects provide insight into the board’s vision for the city.

We cannot help but draw a parallel between the emphasis put on Highway 182 development and Sunday’s passing of Dan Camp.

Camp’s abiding legacy was the vision he had for turning a blighted part of the city into a vibrant, successful asset now known as The Cotton District.

Likewise, we believe the city’s long-neglected 182 corridor is rich with unfulfilled potential.

The aldermen’s priorities aside, the one thing that everyone should be able to agree on is that planning for the future is a wise move, something all of our cities should also pursue. While all area cities aren’t growing at Starkville’s rate, a community’s health needs constant attention, and a plan is a good place to start.

Let’s look ahead.

The future, like objects in a car’s rear view mirror, is closer than it appears.

Online: https://www.cdispatch.com/

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Oct. 23

The Vicksburg Post on election officials:

This is a preemptive “thank you” just in case we forget to say it in a few weeks. Thanks to the local, state and national election officials for what will undoubtedly be the most unique election experience any of us will go through.

Thanks to the election commissioners who have spent months not just ensuring the election rolls are correct and complete, but stocking up on materials and supplies never before needed for an election day.

When was the last time they sought out the best vendor and prices for cotton-tipped swabs, cases of disinfectant and personal protection equipment for poll workers?

Also, these officials have had to adapt and change their plans due to a laundry list of court cases, rulings and policy changes related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and state and federal lawmakers swinging wildly on their indecision of how to handle certain situations.

These election officials are dedicated and have remained solely focused on the mission of providing the most secure and safe voting experience possible on Nov. 3. So, before we forget, thanks.

Online: https://www.vicksburgpost.com/