The Andrew Goodman Foundation Statement on Mississippi’s State Flag Change

The Andrew Goodman Foundation applauds Mississippi’s decision to remove the Confederate insignia from its state flag. As the second state to secede from the United States in 1861, Mississippi has had a troubling and deeply-rooted history of racism. For the past 126 years, the official state flag’s Confederate emblem—a symbol of white supremacy and division—has upheld that legacy. Yesterday’s decision is a positive and necessary step towards dismantling symbols of oppression and hate that continue to plague our society.

On June 21, 1964, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and our namesake Andrew Goodman were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan while participating in the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project because they believed that Black Lives Matter. Their deaths helped change the course of the Civil Rights Movement and contributed to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The recent demonstrations and national outrage over the killings of Black Americans at the hands of police have reminded us that our nation’s racist past is still very much a part of our present. Mississippi’s decision comes in the wake of a national movement to bring down statues of Confederate soldiers throughout the South in order to begin reckoning with a racist past.

This critical work is also championed by our Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere Ambassadors who work on college and university campuses to empower student voters and carry out AGF’s mission of equality and justice. In fact, five years ago, our Andrew Goodman Campus Team at the University of Mississippi joined a successful campaign to remove the Mississippi state flag from their campus. They felt that the state flag had no place flying on a public university campus, which receives public funds and stands for diversity and inclusion.

While we welcome Mississippi’s action, we must also acknowledge that we have a significant amount of work to do, not only in Mississippi but throughout our nation. The Andrew Goodman Foundation strives to promote the values of fairness, inclusion, and compassion to build a just democracy and sustainable future. As an organization that is committed to advancing civil rights and social justice, we call on the state of Mississippi to continue to dismantle symbols and systems of racial oppression and move towards building up systems of justice.