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Sports Opinion: Athletes and coaches played a huge role in changing Mississippi's state flag

04:06  01 july  2020
04:06  01 july  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

Mississippi State, Ole Miss support SEC pressure for a new state flag: 'It is past time for change'

  Mississippi State, Ole Miss support SEC pressure for a new state flag: 'It is past time for change' The state flag of Mississippi is the only one in the United States that features the Confederate symbol.And in order for the state to host future Southeastern Conference championships, as it last did in 2016 with the SEC softball tournament, it will need to pass.

Commentary: Give sports credit; athletes played a huge role in Mississippi ' s flag change . It's been a hard three and a half months without sports. But in the absence of games and practices, Mississippi ' s athletes and coaches did more to help create change than ever before.

Mississippi flag comes down after vote to remove Confederate emblem – video. A groundswell of young activists, college athletes and leaders from business, religion, education and Republican state senator Chris McDaniel said changing the flag was a challenge to the founding values of the

It's been a hard three and a half months without sports. But in the absence of games and practices, Mississippi's athletes and coaches did more to help create change than ever before.

Hinson: Mississippi flag factored into decision to leave Ole Miss

  Hinson: Mississippi flag factored into decision to leave Ole Miss Former Ole Miss guard Blake Hinson says the Mississippi state flag, which features the Confederate battle emblem on its upper left corner, played a role in his decision to leave the school and transfer to Iowa State earlier this week. "To make a general statement, it was time to go and leave Ole Miss," Hinson told Chris Boyle of the Daytona Beach News-Journal. "I'm proud not to represent that flag anymore and to not be associated with anything representing the Confederacy."Mississippi is facing growing calls to change its flag. The NCAA announced on June 19 that it is prohibiting the state from hosting any championship events until it alters the ensign.

The Mississippi state flag is currently the only state flag that features the Confederate battle flag . Commentary: Give sports credit; athletes played a huge role in Mississippi ' s flag change .

play _arrow. The gallery of the Mississippi Senate rise and applaud after the body passed a resolution that would allow lawmakers to change the Former Ole Miss guard Blake Hinson said the Confederate symbol on the state flag of Mississippi played a role in his decision to transfer to Iowa State .

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill Tuesday evening that mandates the removal of the state flag and bans future use of the Confederate emblem. Years of grassroots efforts and statewide activism went into ensuring Mississippi was no longer the only state to include the emblem of the Confederate battle flag on its flag. The politicians, lobbyists and everyday citizens who fought to make this change happen deserve plenty of credit for persisting and persevering.

Kermit Davis et al. posing for the camera: Mississippi men's basketball coach Kermit Davis speaks at the state Capitol on June 25. © Rogelio V. Solis, AP Mississippi men's basketball coach Kermit Davis speaks at the state Capitol on June 25.

But make no mistake: Sports turned this from a debate to a reality.

I briefly chatted with Ole Miss linebacker MoMo Sanogo on Saturday afternoon. It was around the same time the state Senate was voting to allow Sunday's vote (Both chambers of Mississippi's legislature voted to take down the state flag). Sanogo couldn't contain a wry grin thinking about the implications of the impending vote.

The Confederate emblem removed from the Mississippi flag

 The Confederate emblem removed from the Mississippi flag © Rory Doyle The Mississippi flag flies over the State Capitol in Jackson, June 29, 2020 The Confederate symbol on the Mississippi flag joined on Tuesday history books with the signature by the governor of a law removing this reminder of the period of slavery of the standard of State With its emblem - red background, blue cross diagonally with small white stars - which represented the southern states, opposed to the abolition of slavery, during the American Civil War (1861-1865) Mississippi was

Mississippi needs to have a flag that is right for all of our students in- state and all of our out-of- state students and student- athletes that come on our campus." Along with Mississippi State women' s basketball coach Nikki McCray-Penson, Davis was one of two coaches selected to speak at a press

Sports played major role in Mississippi changing its state flag . After urging from coaches and players , the Mississippi legislature voted to remove Confederate battle symbol from state flag . NFL' s New England Patriots sign

People have fought to get the flag taken down for years, he correctly pointed out. But after all that, he said, it really only took two legislative days for the change to happen.

Mississippians fought and fought and fought to remove the Confederate iconography from their state flag. It turns out that two days of voting could've fixed the issue all along.

Of course, that's being reductive. Plenty of effort went into this bill passing. It's important to acknowledge the role sports played in this, though.

The NCAA and Southeastern Conference put pressure on Mississippi, the NCAA outright prohibiting postseason events in this state until the flag was changed or taken down. Mississippi's public universities followed with condemnation after condemnation of the flag and its symbolism.

Opinion: It's time for Ole Miss to finally do away with 'Rebels' nickname

More: Of more than 1,000 head coaches in NCAA sports at Power Five programs, less than 10 percent are Black

Mississippi State's Kylin Hill reacts to progress in changing state flag

  Mississippi State's Kylin Hill reacts to progress in changing state flag The Mississippi State running back has threatened to sit out unless the Confederate battle flag component disappears from the state flag.If you From Mississippi you felt this one ❤️ ????????

New Mississippi State coach Mike Leach — a man recently hired by the school and previously condemned for a tweet with a meme that contained “I am proud of our universities’ leadership and the engagement of student- athletes and coaches in the efforts to change the State of Mississippi flag

Phil Murphy ordered the Mississippi flag removed from a display of each state ' s flag at Liberty State Park and replaced by the American flag because it has a confederate emblem on it. Liberty State Park is on the Hudson River and overlooks the Statue of Liberty.Rogelio V. Solis / AP.

Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill increased the pressure, tweeting last week that he's no longer willing to represent any Mississippi institutions on the field if the flag isn't taken down. A number of his teammates supported him, as did his head coach Mike Leach.

Then Thursday happened.

Forty-six coaches from eight different Mississippi universities descended on the Capitol. Ole Miss men's basketball coach Kermit Davis and Mississippi State women's basketball coach Nikki McCray-Penson both gave passionate speeches. Davis spoke from the perspective of a born-and-raised Mississippian ready to see his home-state change. McCray-Penson spoke from the perspective of a newcomer who understands the lifelong struggles of being a Black person in the South who has to deal with the ever-present specter of seeing images she believes represent hatred.

Athletes, coaches and conferences obviously weren't the only institutions to put pressure on Mississippi lawmakers to make this change. Representatives from every walk of life chimed in too, ranging from religious leaders and entertainment celebrities to major businesses and even politicians themselves.

Following athletes, NCAA takes aim at Confederate flag

  Following athletes, NCAA takes aim at Confederate flag Emboldened by the athletes it serves, the NCAA is taking another stand on a social issue. The NCAA on Friday expanded its policy banning states with prominent Confederate symbols from hosting its sponsored events, one day after the Southeastern Conference made a similar declaration aimed at the Mississippi state flag. The current NCAA ban, in place since 2001, applies to what the NCAA calls predetermined sites, such as for men’s basketball tournament games. Mississippi is the only state currently affected by the policy.

A former Ole Miss player says Mississippi flag was a big reason he transferred. Sports figures in Mississippi led the way as state legislators Sunday passed a resolution to remove a Confederate Other athletes did just that, too. Kylin Hill, a Mississippi State running back, tweeted last week that

Over the years, various bills to retire Mississippi ’ s flag have not achieved any real momentum. University coaches and athletes came to the capital to urge lawmakers to act. Legislators began to come out in favor of changing the flag , with some citing fear that the state would lose out on job

But it's important to note just how powerful a united message from the athletic community can be. Mississippi didn't just realize this week that a large chunk of its population supported flag reform. This has been known for years.

So it doesn't feel like a coincidence that Sunday's votes happened 10 days after the SEC's announcement, nine days after the NCAA's announcement, six days after Hill's tweet and three days after nearly every prominent athletics employee in the state visited the Capitol.

Need further proof? Omeria Scott, a Mississippi congresswoman representing District 80 in the House of Representatives, suggested naming the flag change legislation after Hill. Scott said "the voice of this young man was a tremendous voice" when describing Hill.

That motion was tabled, but it speaks to just how influential someone like Hill can be when trying to create change. In some respects, the actions of one college football player accelerated the efforts and voices of thousands of others who had been fighting the same battle unsuccessfully.

Now more than ever, we're starting to see college athletes use their voices to create change. These student-athletes aren't gladiators. They aren't nameless, faceless warriors who run around in armor on Saturday afternoons to entertain the masses. They aren't automatons programmed to throw and catch prolate spheroids who get switched off when the final buzzer rings.

Faith Hill Calls for Mississippi to Change State Flag, Says It's a 'Direct Symbol of Terror'

  Faith Hill Calls for Mississippi to Change State Flag, Says It's a 'Direct Symbol of Terror' "It is time for the world to meet the Mississippi of today and not the Mississippi of 1894," Faith Hill arguedOn Thursday, the country singer called out the Mississippi legislature on Twitter, asking them to vote Friday on "ONE NEW FLAG, one that represents ALL of the citizens of Mississippi.

These athletes are people with opinions and goals.

Take Ole Miss defensive end Ryder Anderson. I caught up with Anderson after the LOUnited rally on Saturday, a march for unity and progress he planned with Sanogo. I asked Anderson about this very topic, and he sees a bright future for athletes like himself and Hill who choose to use their platforms for more than trying to get bowl eligible.

"We can step up," Anderson said. "We can use our voice, use our platform. Together we are really strong. We can really make stuff happen if we just come together."

If we learned anything from this last week in Mississippi, it's that Anderson no longer has to speak hypothetically. Change happened.

Give athletes the credit they deserve.

This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Opinion: Athletes and coaches played a huge role in changing Mississippi's state flag

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