Remove the Confederate battle emblem from Mississippi’s state flag.

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Friend -- The news of the massacre at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston horrified me. But it didn’t surprise me. I come from Mississippi, where the struggle for racial harmony has always been particularly tough, and violent. Just this year, ten people were convicted of assaulting African Americans in Jackson, in racially motivated attacks. They pelted people with bottles. They ran over a man with their truck. This was not 1965. This just happened.

But there is so much more to Mississippi than this raw racial wound. Growing up there, I was instilled with a deep sense of hope, faith, and love. I truly believe it’s my strong Mississippi values that have made me a lifelong champion for peace and justice. What happened in South Carolina was an atrocity. But I know positive changes can come from it, and I know that my beautiful home state of Mississippi can lead by taking the Confederate symbol off its state flag.

To insist on keeping the Confederate battle symbol on Mississippi’s flag at this point would be a statement of state-sanctioned hatred,and it would be unforgivable. Please join me in calling on Mississippi lawmakers to show the world how great this state can be, and remove it immediately.

“For too long we were blind to the pain the Confederate flag stirred in too many of our citizens.” These moving words were spoken by President Obama at his eulogy for Senator Clementa Pinkney, one of the nine people murdered in South Carolina, and nowhere are they more apt than in Mississippi. Yes, the flag is a part of our history, but it’s also a reminder of the violence and racial oppression that its bearers were fighting for. Can’t we begin a new chapter in Mississippi history, and in all states in America?

Now is the time to join forces and face this issue, which has cast a shadow on our state for too long. Even Republican Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn agrees: Now is the time to leave the Confederate battle flag behind us -- before another innocent person is attacked in its name.

I am calling on my fellow Mississippians, and everyone who supports this change across the nation, to sign this petition to help bring about a new day for the great state of Mississippi.

Remove the Confederate battle emblem from Mississippi’s state flag.

Thank you,

Duvalier Malone