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New Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen sworn in Friday morning

At the inauguration ceremony of Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson and Board of Aldermen on Friday, Gibson’s first act as mayor was to present a key to the city to outgoing Mayor Darryl Grennell along with a flag he plans to propose as the new flag for the City of Natchez.

Six members of the Natchez Board of Aldermen: Valencia Hall, Billie Joe Frazier, Sarah Carter-Smith, Felicia Bridgewater Irving, Benjamin Davis and Dan Dillard along with Gibson and Municipal Court Judge Lisa Jordan Dale were sworn into their respective offices during Friday’s inauguration at the gazebo on the Natchez Bluff.

The flag — which was presented to Grennell by Gibson shortly after the officials took their oath of office — displays the official Natchez seal that was adopted under Grennell’s leadership in 2017 over a blue and white surface.

The seal is inclusive of many facets of Natchez history with a prominent picture of a Natchez Indian flanked by French, British and Spanish flags and the 15-star American flag that once flew over Natchez.

The image also contains West African Adinkra symbols “Mmere Dane,” which means “change,” and “Boa me na me mmoa wo,” interpreted to mean “help me, and let me help you.”

After the inauguration ceremony Friday, Gibson said he was fond of the Natchez seal and felt it was time for Natchez to have a new flag that is inclusive of all aspects of Natchez’s history.

“We honor the Natchez (Indians) today on the city flag because truly they were the first occupants and owners of this land. We do honor the French because they established this beautiful and oldest city on the Mississippi River. We honor the British. We honor the Spanish and today, proudly, we honor the United States of America who laid claim to this territory so many years ago. … But we also pay honor to those enslaved African men and women and their children, for truly we would not be here and this city would not be the beautiful city that it is today had it not been for their ultimate sacrifice,” Gibson said at the unveiling of the proposed Natchez flag.

The flag would be presented for approval in a later meeting of the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen, Gibson said, adding the board will have to discuss the issue and what to do with the existing flag.

In his inaugural address, Gibson spoke of a “Natchez renewal” as the city progresses through the actions of the new administration and meets new health and economic challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gibson said Natchez would begin its renewal by following his six point plan for his term as mayor: by helping local businesses recover from economic hardship caused by the pandemic and by building a job-training center, a medical economy, recreational programs for citizens of all ages, a safe city, and building unity in the community.

“Renewal is about harmony. Renewal is about community. Renewal is about opportunity. Renewal is about forgiveness. Renewal is about love. Let us in Natchez be a people who respect one another, who work with one another and love one another,” Gibson said.

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