Louisiana residents have their own opinions of flag vote

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 17, 2001

VIDALIA, La. – Even if you live in Louisiana, it seems there’s no getting away from the state flag debate that will be decided by voters in Mississippi today.

Louisianans say they have heard plenty about the debate through news, in the workplace and from family and friends.

And although their flag is not the one in question – one that features a nest of pelicans on a blue field – they still have a variety of opinions on the fate of Mississippi’s flag.

Some said Monday they believe that Mississippi should change its flag, which features a controversial Confederate symbol in its top left corner.

&uot;Some people don’t see why (the flag) is a big deal, but I can see where it could offend people of a different race,&uot; said Jennifer Barnes of Vidalia. &uot;Maybe to some people it stands for Southern pride, but it causes other people hurt and anger. Maybe it’s time for a change.&uot;

Others do not see why the design of Mississippi’s flag has become such a big issue.

&uot;It’s a Mississippi issue, not a Louisiana issue,&uot; said Charlie Blaney of Vidalia, who serves as a Concordia Parish police juror. &uot;But if it was in Louisiana and it went to a vote today, I’d vote to keep the flag. I understand it’s a sore point to some people, … but it’s part of our Southern heritage.&uot;

Sidney Murray Jr. of Vidalia admitted he did not know much about Mississippi’s flag design until the push for a new state flag began and has not really kept up with news about the debate.

&uot;I don’t really see why there’s such a big discussion,&uot; Murray said. &uot;For me, it has nothing to do with a hate symbol. And as far as the Civil War is concerned, the whole thing is really a tragedy.&uot;

But Sammy Davis Jr., a Ferriday alderman, said he still regards the Confederate battle flag as a symbol of the oppression of black people.

&uot;To me, it’s symbolic of what happened to us back then&uot; in the civil rights movement, Davis said. &uot;I think it should be done away with.&uot;

Davis said he understands that some people regard the Confederate battle flag – and the Mississippi flag that bears its image – as part of their heritage.

&uot;People say, ‘It’s a symbol of what we did back then,’ and that’s true,&uot; Davis said. &uot;But along with that, they also hung some of us.&uot;

But to Allie LaBorde of Vidalia, changing the flag seems pointless unless people also learn to get rid of the hate and bitterness in their hearts.

&uot;You can’t change history – you can only learn from it,&uot;&160;LaBorde said. &uot;People really need to change their attitudes and their hearts, and then real change will come. Changing the flag won’t change that.&uot;