The Mississippi State Flag has been a controversial topic for throughout the nation and a year after Delta State University’s decision to remove the state flag, Cleveland has followed suit.
During the Cleveland Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday, the discussion of the flag was removed from the table where it had been placed last month.
Alderman Kirkham Povall said he’d been speaking to community members and had planned to visit several veterans’ groups this week for more discussion.
Alderman Maurice Smith asked if he was looking at the option of coming up with another flag.
“I’ve got some ideas but would like more time to come up with it,” said Povall.
“I don’t have a problem to give time to look at alternatives. However I would like to make a motion to remove the flag pending Kirkham’s recommendation or suggestion for an alternative,” said Smith.
Alderman Ted Campbell seconded.
“I don’t want it put on me that I’ll solve the problem. It’s not for me to go out and resolve this issue. You hear people of all backgrounds and all levels and society and economics and they have different opinions. Ask young people and they don’t know what the flag is and some don’t know the difference between the American flag and the Mississippi flag. Some don’t know the history,” said Povall.
“They don’t care or are ambivalent or are strongly opposed or strongly for … I have respect for people who disagree with that. I think within a short time we can find some consensus among this board that would work but at this moment I’m not ready to do that sooner than you think we can do something. So that’s where I am,” said Povall.
Sanders reminded the board of the motion on the floor.
Both Janoush and Povall mentioned they preferred not to make a vote due to the lack of aldermen present. Both Aldermen Gary Gainspoletti and Danny Abraham were absent.
Smith said, “I understand what you’re saying and we aren’t going to solve the problem but I think the issue is we’ve had time to look for an alternative.
“Whatever the alternative, that’s not going to change what the flag represents. That stands on its own and I don’t think we have to look any further than our state institutions.
“Look no further than the University of Mississippi. Years ago they decided it was a divisive issue and I see the same thing here,” said Smith.
Mayor Billy Nowell reminded the board of the motion on the floor.
Smith made an amendment to the motion that the flag be immediately removed without waiting for an alternative.
Campbell seconded and Sanders voted yes, the motion passed.
Janoush and Povall opposed.
At the end of the meeting, Sanders said, “Despite differences in opinions, we are steadfast in doing the right thing for our city and moving forward and I think it speaks volumes for us as a board to make these decisions.
“It’s human nature to differ. I always say two people that come out of the same women won’t agree, my brother and I never agreed. To see us differ but continue to move forward is a great thing.”
The flag will no longer fly at the Cleveland Police Department and city hall.
The state flag was removed from Bolivar County Courthouse and county facilities at the beginning of October after a vote in by supervisors in September.
The state flag also does not fly at Delta State University and has not flown since Nov. 3, 2016.
At the time it was removed and placed in the university archives, President Bill LaForge said, “The objectionable portion of the state flag — the stars and bars — presents a polarizing symbol that is a barrier to progress and improved understanding of our state, our university, and our people. Delta State recently completed a visioning process, during which we set a course of excellence for the university’s future.
“Included in our visioning principles are a number of core values that we promote and embrace, including civility, respect for all, diversity, inclusion, fairness, hospitality, and a welcoming environment that is conducive to the success of our students, faculty, and staff.
“We believe that continuing to fly the state flag — with its divisive symbol that sends a confusing message, at best, and that has increasingly become a distraction to our mission — is contrary to our core values and to an accurate understanding of who we are and what we stand for as a university.”