Fifteen years ago, the Rev. Dr. Dolphus Weary of Richland was part of a 17-member independent commission appointed by then Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove to develop a new design for the state flag. The commission proposed replacing the state flag with the Confederate emblem with a flag featuring a blue canton of 20 stars, representing the 13 original colonies, the six nations that had sovereignty over Mississippi territory and one centralized star for Mississippi itself.
The proposal for the new flag was shot down in a referendum with 64 percent (488,630) voting against the new flag and 36 percent (267,812) voting for it. The old flag, which has flown over the state being adopted by the Mississippi Legislature in 1894, was retained.
Gov. Phil Bryant is among some officials who say the issue has already been decided by voters.
Opponents, however, point to the decision by South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag and say the time has come for Mississippi to follow suit.
Weary, who pastors a church in Mendenhall and is the President of R.E.A.L. Christian Foundation, was in Meridian Friday to speak at Meridian Mayor Percy Bland’s prayer breakfast for Reconciliation Week festivities in remembrance of the Lockheed Martin mass shooting in Meridian in 2003 that left seven people dead. A minister of more than 40 years, Weary has tried to reach out to those on both sides of the flag debate.
“It’s a tough issue and the reason it’s a tough issue is because there are so many people who are not bad people, say they love the flag because the flag has a different meaning to them than say me or somebody else that is black,” Weary said. “What I’ve learned is that there are some people who happen to be black, that have gone through a lot of pain because of the flag. And to have that waving over the state of Mississippi, they are saying, ‘I don’t want that flag representing me as a Mississippian.’ So you’ve got people in the black community saying that and you got people in the white community saying I love that flag because of all these reasons. The problem is you can’t change history.”