‘Stars and Bars’ will remain on display

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 3, 1999

Despite questions from the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, the first Confederate national flag will remain on display in Natchez.

Last month, Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown replaced the battle flag that flies over the Natchez Visitor Reception Center with the first national flag of the Confederacy, also known as the Stars and Bars.

Although representatives from the Sons of the Confederate Veterans asked the mayor and board of aldermen last week to consider using the third national flag of the Confederacy, Brown said Wednesday he was comfortable with his choice.

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&uot;We think we have the right flag,&uot; Brown said. &uot;It was already settled in my mind. We just had to ferret out all of the facts.&uot;

The Confederate flag is one of seven which fly over the visitors center and stand behind the board of aldermen in city council chambers. The flags, the U.S., Mississippi, Natchez, French, Spanish and British, represent the entities which have governed the city.

The first Confederate national flag was adopted in 1861, Brown said. The second was adopted in 1863 and the third in 1865.

But because Natchez surrendered to the Union in 1862, Brown said no other national flags but the first could have flown in the city.

&uot;We know (the third national flag) could never have flown here because Grant was here,&uot; Brown said.

A local minister, the Rev. C.R. Jackson, had raised the issue about the battle flag because he felt it was the wrong Confederate flag to fly over Natchez.

Brown said his decision to switch the flags stemmed from controversy about the display of the battle flag throughout the country.

The NAACP’s board of directors has announced a boycott of tourism in South Carolina because that state continues to fly the Confederate battle flag over the state capitol.

And last month Southern heritage advocate Jim Giles filed a suit in U.S. District Court challenging the Confederate flag policy at the University of Mississippi.

Two years ago, Ole Miss banned people from bringing flags on sticks to athletic events on campus like football and basketball games. Giles claims the ban is unconstitutional.

The decision to switch the flags may be getting the city national attention. A film crew will be in Natchez Friday to interview Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown for a documentary on the Confederate flag.

Brown said the film crew will use Natchez as a positive example of how a city can resolve the debate over the battle flag.

The Emmy-winning Greystone Communications of North Hollywood, Calif., will be producing the two-hour documentary, &uot;The Unfinished Civil War.&uot; The documentary, to be aired on The History Channel, is exploring the political issues surrounding public displays of the Confederate battle flag, Brown said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.