Yesterday, April 13, Mississippi State students appeared for a sit-in protest at Lee Hall from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. The nature of the protest was to ask MSU president, Mark Keenum, to take down the state flag due to the Confederate emblem.
Mississippi State University is the remaining major public university in the state that still flies the state flag after the University of Mississippi and the University of Southern Mississippi both removed the flag from the campuses.
The group that organized the sit-in protest is self-called “Lucky 7,” and it has called on MSU president Mark Keenum to remove the state flag from the campus by May 1, 2016, according to its list of 10 demands provided on its website that the group created Tuesday, April 12: takeastandmsu.weebly.com.
MSU’s director of communications, Sid Salter, said that the university received the list of 10 demands late Monday in an anonymous email.
As a result, Dr. Keenum has sent administrators, vice presidents, deans and directors throughout the university the demands which might be related to their areas of responsibility with instructions to vet them and to report back to him on anything that they uncover.
Salter said “Several of the demands require data-driven responses. We will need to analyze and crunch the numbers, and as soon as this is completed an evaluation will be done. We have been asked how long this will take. I do not anticipate that being very long.”
This organization also wrote a letter to MSU President Keenum as provided on its website. In the letter, the students within the organization wrote: “The University of Mississippi and the University of Southern Mississippi have heard their students’ outcry against this hateful flag and we demand that the voices of Mississippi State University students be heard as well.”
Salter noted that Keenum has sent letters to Governor Phil Bryant, Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn to express his support for changing the state flag. The letters can be viewed by clicking on the following links:
Keenum also issued a statement to the students:
As President of Mississippi State University and as an individual, I have consistently supported changing the state flag of Mississippi because I believe it is the right thing to do.
This issue is important to me. It is important for the future of my children and for the children of so many of my fellow citizens in Mississippi. To that end, I have promoted the principled efforts by our MSU Faculty Senate and our MSU Student Senate to support flag change and shared those efforts with the state’s political leadership.
Since the atrocities in South Carolina last year, I have supported changing Mississippi’s state flag. That’s what I have said to students, faculty and staff on this campus. That’s what I repeat once again today.
But I want to be clear. Taking the state flag down arbitrarily is a symbolic gesture that accomplishes nothing toward actually changing the state flag to something that everyone can support and feel good about.
I support real flag change and I think I can best help accomplish that by working within the system to bring about that change. That I have done. That I will continue to do.
Students, I hear your concerns. I feel your protests, and I profoundly admire the courage you demonstrate in standing up for your principles and your beliefs.
While we may well have different views on tactics, strategies and timing, rest assured that we share a common goal of uniting Mississippians behind a new state flag that can inspire all of us and be a source of universal hope and pride. I pledge to continue to work tirelessly toward that goal.
Callie Daniels Bryant is the senior managing editor at HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.