Minister says city flies wrong flag

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 22, 1999

The Rev. C.R. Jackson says he doesn’t object to the city’s flying a Confederate flag over the Natchez Visitor Reception Center. But he says the flag flying today isn’t the right one.

City officials and historians, however, disagree.

Seven flags fly over the colonnade beside the visitor center: the U.S. flag, Natchez flag, Mississippi flag, Spanish flag, French flag, Confederate flag and the flag of Great Britain. They are meant to represent the city’s history, and also stand in the city council chambers on Pearl Street.

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Jackson believes the Confederate flag flying over the visitor center was not used by the Confederacy; instead, he said, it is one developed in the early 1900s and was used by the Ku Klux Klan.

&uot;People think they’re looking at the Confederate flag and have all that hatred and animosity behind it,&uot; he said. &uot;That flag is synonymous with hatred, bigotry and lynchings.&uot;

But local amateur Civil War historian Don Estes said the battle flag flying over the visitor center was developed during the war and was patterned after the Scottish St. Andrew’s Cross, a white cross on a blue field. The battle flag, a blue cross with white stars on a red field, is traditionally associated with the Confederacy, Estes said.

&uot;Seventy-five percent of the Confederate army was of Scottish lineage,&uot; said Estes, who has studied the Civil War for 40 years.

City Engineer David Gardner said that when the city designed the visitor center, it consulted with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History on each of the flags. Archives and History approved all of them, he said.

Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown said the flag represents the city’s history.

&uot;That is a period in our history,&uot; he said. &uot;That’s all it represents. There may be some people that are offended that the Spanish were here. I hope we don’t find ourselves getting into a debate about the flag. There are more things to be concerned about.&uot;

Brown said he does not have the authority alone to change the flag.

Jackson said he doesn’t want the city not to fly the Confederate flag. He wants the city to fly what he believes is the correct flag – the Confederate national flag.

Estes said the first Confederate flag raised over Natchez was likely the first national flag, the &uot;Stars and Bars,&uot; which looked so much like the American flag that it was eventually changed to avoid confusion.

A newspaper clipping from January 1862 notes that the city dedicated a huge flag pole for the Confederate flag, Estes said. At the time, the national flag of the Confederacy was the Stars and Bars – two wide red stripes, one wide white stripe, and a field of blue in the corner with seven stars in a circle.

&uot;I would bet the one that was raised looked like the national flag,&uot; Estes said, although no one knows for sure which flag it was.

The Confederate battle flag also flew over Natchez, Estes said, so he believes the city would be correct in flying either the battle flag or the national flag.

&uot;I hate to see people constantly attacking that flag,&uot; Estes said. &uot;But what bothers me more is that it’s associated with the Ku Klux Klan. It’s been demonized when it should not have been.&uot;

But to Jackson, the flag flying over the visitor center is offensive to blacks.

&uot;Why should they have to put up with a flag whose meaning is hatred and violence?&uot; he said.