Oxford Mayor Pens Open Letter in Favor of Changing Mississippi Flag

Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson
Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson

In six years as your Mayor, this is my second open letter to our community. In light of the recent tragedy in South Carolina and the renewed concerns from many of our citizens regarding the Mississippi state flag and the depiction of the Confederate battle flag in its canton, I would like to add my voice to those who advocate for a less divisive symbol.

In discussions with a distinguished historian who is a retired University of Mississippi professor, it became clearer to me how once a symbol of loyalty and valor has been hijacked today to stand for things the vast majority of Mississippians vehemently repudiate.

Let me be clear, no one in this community and few people in the South have deeper ties to the Confederate military service than I do. A portrait of Colonel James D. Lester, MD, my great-great grandfather, in his Confederate uniform, sketched by his daughter, Kate Lester Lamar; an accomplished artist and L.Q.C. Lamar’s daughter-in-law, hangs in my study at home. It is one of my most prized possessions. I donated L.Q.C. Lamar’s office desk to his museum on North 14th in honor of my family. I think my heritage speaks for itself.

This past April, I was on the Square for a family-oriented event with my buddy, Jack Busby, age 7. It was a beautiful spring morning when several dozen protestors wrapped in the Confederate Flag “marched” around the Square in protest. I’m still not in sure of what. There were many families and children at this event. The protest absolutely took the air out of the whole day. “What are they doing?” Jack asked me. It was a difficult question to answer.

Do I believe there are people using this tragedy for their own personal advantages and to advance their own agenda? Absolutely. Do I believe the vast majority of people today look at the flag of the State of Mississippi and wish for the return of the Old South and all the human suffering it brought ? Absolutely not.

As Thomas Jefferson so eloquently stated, “I prefer the dreams of the future to the stories of the past.” It is my opinion that going forward we should seek a new state flag that we could all be proud of – without question; a flag that represents what and how the vast majority of people in Mississippi try to think today.

Will changing the flag change people’s hearts? Of course not. Only God can do that. But it will let the rest of the world know that in this day and time we are concerned about how other people feel and how many others view our state and what its current flag symbolizes.

I believe from the bottom of my heart this is the position Dr. Lester would support if he were alive today.


Thank You for the Great Honor and Privilege of being allowed to serve You.


George G. Patterson



  1. It is a shame that our society will give in to such great demands. It is a shame that our society would address a situation that has valor in history. It is a shame our elected officials would be so bold to go against 62 percent of the population.

    I called Washington today to Wickers office, we the people are tired of paying FOOD STAMPS to people that sit on they’re ass’s!!
    Max Lomax

  2. If not using this symbol helps our nation unite and move away from the violence and killing, I’m all for it. It’s time for it to go. Honestly I’m not sure it’s the answer. However, it could be a start, and we definitely need to start somewhere, just don’t be so “old school” that you can’t give in. It’s definitely not the end of the world, we are still “OLE MISS.” Traditions die hard, but we are smart educated people and if this change helps our world to get better and our people to survive without violence, it will work for the better. HOTTY TODDY. HYDR. REBELS.

  3. This is the sadest thing I have ever read. First, I am proud of the fact that citizens voted to keep our flag, it’s tradition and rich history. Secondly, I am ashamed that people want to blame a flag for murders. It is no different than people blaming a gun when murders happen and everyone jumps on the gun control bandwagon. How about we as citizens STOP blaming inanimate objects for the reasons of poor mental judgement!!!! A person shot those people….not a gun, not a flag, not something that happened 200+ years ago,,, hold the responsible party to blame.

  4. Just another move to destroy the good in this country. I want this I want that. I don’t like that I feel that’s wrong . You people have no heart. Go ahead take the flag and stick it where the sun will never shine. Let me guess Mr mayor next you will agree to the removal of jesus christ to get your vote.want you. O I almost forgot most of you don’t know jesus christ. Try putting him first in your life . Make him the center of your life. Search for his face not some flag or any flag .flags don’t make people evil. Guns don’t kill people. Evil does. Forget removal of flag people . It’s NOT the problem. Bring god back in this country and be a country once again.

  5. You missed a great opportunity, Mr. Mayor, when young Jack asked you, “What are they doing?” You could have said, “Jack, they are exercising their rights under the First Amendment, the cornerstone of liberty in America. Many people have paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend everyone’s right to speak freely and to protest. That diversity of opinion and ideas is what makes our nation unique.”

  6. I believe what happened was not the fault of a flag. It goes much deeper than that. I do see that the repsonse of the church and the people of Charleson was about forgivness. And to have forgviness like that comes from knowing God. If getting rid of the flag makes peolple happy, then so be it. But I do not think it will keep tragedies like this from happening.

  7. It is so ridiculous that people can even think that taking a flag down will change the world!! It want!! The only thing that is going to change this world is to have God in our lives and back in our schools!! I can promise you, you want see a change in people until this happens. The only thing you are going to see is them wanting more things changed to show they have the power to do what ever they want and just blame it on something else. I don’t know about other people but I’m tired of people getting by with blaming what they have done on other things and people!!! The FLAG needs to stay, it had nothing to do with what happened!!!

  8. Thank you, Mayor Patterson! Hopefully you will encourage other people to come forward on this issue. Good for you! Proud for Oxford.

  9. Hello to all.

    Yes it was a very elegant letter. But if we shall let go of the past then let’s start with the Constitution. Many people are offended by the verbiage and so forth. Then I guess we should eliminate the 2nd amendment. We all know how this has acted against people. Why not eliminate these it’s just part of history and no one really cares we need to move on with the future and God forbid not offend anyone. We as a country have become some of the biggest you know what.(I can’t write the real word’s it might offend someone)
    Anyway hopefully we will get our heads out of our ass and realize that this Political Correct time that we live in is going to be part of the down fall of this country. (Media is the biggest downfall)

  10. One more thing. If one of the reasons for the Flag issue is because the individual that killed the people in the church was waving it and wearing a shirt with it. Then I guess we should also boycott and shut down Golds Gym.

  11. The citizens of the State of Mississippi went to the poles a few years ago and voted to keep the present State Flag. Now, politicians want to go against what the people of Mississippi overwhelmingly want and voted for. They are what needs to be removed, not our flag. Does elections not matter any more?

  12. they went to the polls over a decade ago, not a few years ago. the bottom line here is we have a split issue. the flag’s purpose is to unite and we clearly don’t have that. doesn’t matter what side is right, we are not united in Mississippi with the flag. hang it in your lawns if you must, but it does not deserve to be the representative of all people in Mississippi.

  13. Thank you, Mayor Patterson, I encourage everyone to look past the hateful terrorist killings in Charleston. It’s a battle of perception in which those murders are serving as a catalyst for change. Continuing to hang onto the devisive symbols of the past can only hurt Mississippians. It’s hurtful to see so many of you railing against change aimed at securing a better future and ultimately saving you from yourselves. Having the Confederate flag as part of our state flag is like having a tattoo on our faces and wondering why no one will give us jobs and take us seriously. We as a state are long overdue for this change. The good news is that you’ll continue to be free to fly that flag in your yard or even tattoo it on your face if you so desire.

  14. If only the people above cared about fully funding education, reducing poverty and obesity, creating jobs, and loving our neighbors as much as they care about defending a flag, we’d be in a lot better position in Mississippi.

    No, creating a flag that unites us instead of divides us won’t change a person’s heart, but it will change the perception and ideology that Mississippi is associated with these groups.

    Also, the whole “if you don’t like it, you can leave” defensive mechanism, my response is no. You talk about freedom of speech when it benefits you, but when others speak out against something that you’re clearly defensive about, you play the “my way or the highway” card. That seems to have worked for a lot of you, as many educated Mississippians find better opportunities and leave our state, taking their diverse ideas with them.

    Finally, the 2001 vote argument is silly. That vote was fourteen years ago and was more of a vote against a terrible replacement rather than a vote for the current flag. The current generation like myself also couldn’t vote then.

    Replace your defensive nature with loving your neighbor. The flag is controversial to many whether your love for history and heritage are in the right place. The flag deserves its place in history and remembrance, but it doesn’t belong on our official state flag anymore.

  15. Thank you, Mr Mayor. Those that claim the flag is not a divisive symbol are not being honest with themselves. Also, they seem happy with government imposing a symbol on people as long as it’s their symbol. At least be consistent!

  16. I am sure that the US Flag had red and white stripes and a blue union when the calvary marched west murdering native Americans and forcing them to live on reservations. Shall we do away with the nation’s flag? How about we force all 50 states (or 57 as Obama says) as well as our nation to change to a solid white flag. I mean, you do wave a white flag when you give up and surrender to the attackers.

  17. I agree with the mayor. Mississippi’s best days are ahead of us. We need a state flag and leaders that support our bright future. The past can not be changed and will always be behind us. The opportunity is to show what Mississippi is today and what it can be in the future.

    Great article mayor. Well done.

  18. Thanks for doing the right thing. Removing that flag from the Ole Miss campus only benefited the community. The same will hold true with the entire state.


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