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Longtime Leaders At State Universities Urge Former Students To Change State Flag

By Mickey Howley
WVMSA Director

Last Sunday was Flag Day. This column last week ended with a recounting of what a top national economic developer consultant, who was paid by the statewide economic development organization, said in Jackson.  He said this several years about the state flag to a question of is the flag a significant deterrence to investment and jobs? “It’s not good and it not going to get better.” 

Here’s a letter written last week about the state flag.


Dear Former Students of Ours; Bulldogs, Golden Eagles and Rebels, 

We are writing to ask for your help. We knew you when you were our students. Whether you were an officer, a resident assistant, a student recruiter or in any other way active on campus or one of our great students with whom we got to meet when you dropped by our offices, we fondly remember how important you were to the life of our campuses.  

You made our institutions better by your hard work, by your willingness to challenge us, by your asking your hard questions, and by affecting changes which last until today. We three are all retired now from our beloved universities, but believe that our work lives on through you.

While some of us may not have spoken to you in years, we remember you. We care about you. And, we care about the state of Mississippi. 

The three of us have over 100 years of combined experience in working with college students at Mississippi’s three largest universities. We live in a state with great potential and you are that potential. While Mississippi has come a long way from its tumultuous past, we still have a long way to go.

 At Southern Miss, State, and Ole Miss we served as your advocates. We are now asking and encouraging you to advocate for the state of Mississippi by involving yourselves in changing the state flag. It’s time.

The reasons for changing the flag are obvious and have been well documented. When you hear the justification that “the people voted in 2001…”, remember, many of you were not old enough to vote or weren’t even born!

For those of you who hold dearly to the flag as it is, you are still our students and we value and respect you, and we hope you will think about how the current flag is holding our state back.

Now is the time to get involved. Contact state officials, specifically the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the house, and your state legislators. Express to them about how you feel that it’s time to change the flag. Work within your arenas of influence to build momentum to make the change. Choose to display one of the alternative proposed state flags.

Start or sign existing petitions to be sent to our leaders. Take to social media pushing for change. Support businesses that fly an alternative flag. We know you have the power to make change one voice at a time. You changed each of us in many ways for the better. You changed our campuses for the better. You can change the flag and in turn help send a message that Mississippi is a place that respects all of her people.

 Let’s get busy. It’s time.

 Signed by Dr. Jimmy Abraham, Former Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Alumni Association Executive Director at Mississippi State University. Dr. Joe Paul, Vice President for Student Affairs Emeritus at The University of Southern Mississippi. Dr. Sparky Reardon, Dean of Students Emeritus at The University of Mississippi.


If you don’t know these men, all three are Mississippi natives. Paul is from Bay St. Louis and both Reardon and Abraham are from Clarksdale. All three said responses from former students have been exceedingly positive.

“I’ve had nothing but appreciation for the letter,” Abraham said. Paul said, “Overwhelmingly positive response from my former students.” Reardon said, “It’s pretty obvious from the former students I have heard from that they understand how badly our state needs a new emblem we can all rally around. It’s time to move forward.”

1 Comment

  1. Albert Wilbourn on June 17, 2020 at 6:54 pm

    I voted to change the flag in 2001. Having spent 26 years defending the American flag, l couldn’t see defending the flag of another country. One that hasn’t existed for over 100 years.

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