New Jersey governor orders Mississippi state flag to be replaced with American flag at Liberty State Park
In New Jersey's Liberty State Park, a section called Freedom Way displays flags from all 50 states. This includes Mississippi's state flag, adopted in 1894, which features the "Southern Cross," aka the Confederate battle emblem. During the Civil War, traitors in the South rebelled against America in a bloody battle for states' rights, particularly the right to own (African-American) slaves. If you're a resident of Texas, this news might come as a surprise, since the Texas Board Of Education just admitted slavery was "the central cause" to the Civil War in 2018.
150 years later, Confederate sympathizers still deny that the Civil War was primarily caused by a dispute over slavery. To them, the Confederate flag simply represents Southern heritage and honors their dead ancestors. But to others, the Confederate flag represents traitors who violently rebelled against America over the right to own (African-American) slaves. As a result, Confederate monuments, which were mostly erected during the contentious civil rights era of the 1960's, have sparked a backlash.
Last Friday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy ordered Mississippi's state flag to be removed from Liberty State Park. "New Jersey's strength is rooted in our diverse communities," he said in a statement. "The Confederate symbol displayed on the Mississippi state flag is reprehensible and does not reflect our values of inclusivity and equality." He went on to thank state Senator Sandra Cunningham for raising the issue.
“The Confederate flag symbolizes an era of hate, violence, and division,” Sen. Cunningham said in a statement. "I thank Gov. Murphy for his commitment to tolerance and equality and for the decision to remove this hateful symbol from Liberty State Park. Hate has no home in New Jersey.”
"We know what the Confederate symbol represents and it has no place in New Jersey," Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver tweeted. "There is a difference between acknowledging history versus glorifying it."
The Mississippi state flag, which is the only one to feature the Confederate battle flag, will be replaced with an American flag. But perhaps another option will be considered in the future. Last month, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed a bill allowing motorists to display a revamped state flag on their license plate. The new flag design, created by local Mississippi artist Laurin Stennis, features 19 stars around a central star, signifying that Mississippi was the 20th state to join the Union.
However, the governor of the Magnolia State did not approve of Gov. Murphy's decision. "I'm disappointed in Gov. Murphy's actions," Gov. Phil Bryant said in a statement. "As I have repeatedly said, the voters of Mississippi should decide what the state flag is or is not."
Due to its connection to a shameful time in American history, several cities and colleges have stopped flying Mississippi's flag, including the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University. Georgia officially removed the symbol from their state flag in 2004.