Why students at this iconic Southern school want their state flag removed.

With the eyes of the country on them, student senators at the University of Mississippi attended an important vote on Oct. 20, 2015.

Photo via iStock.


The verdict? They want the Mississippi state flag, which incorporates the controversial blue cross and stars of the Confederate flag into its design, off their campus.

In a 33-15 vote (with one vote abstained), the Associated Student Body Senate concluded that a symbol many believe to be undeniably racist is something, you know, they don't want tied to their school's image, according to CNN.

Now the senate will pass the resolution on to the school's administration to decide about whether they'll officially act or not.

This is a big deal. Not just because it's a large and influential university in the South, but because we're talking about the University of Mississippi.

Ole Miss, people.


Southern pride runs deep at Ole Miss (to put it lightly). And many inextricably tie that pride to the Confederate flag.

Near the same flag many students want removed is a monument honoring Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. Ole Miss is the hallmark public university of a state that, in 2001, voted overwhelmingly to keep its flag exactly as is — blue cross and stars included.

And the school's mascot? Literally the Rebels (up until 2003, you could spot Colonel Reb rousing fans at Vaught–Hemingway Stadium).


Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images.

Just bringing up the idea of removing the flag — the student government's vote was a first in "recent history," a spokesperson for the school told The Huffington Post — is newsworthy. So a heavy majority of student senators actually backing the removal? Again, really big.

“I think it shows that we as a student body recognize that these symbols of white supremacy have no place on our campus," student senator Allen Coon told The Washington Post. “They affect people that are marginalized. They make students feel excluded on their own campus, and they promote ideals of hate and racial oppression."

As you may have expected, the vote has already brought a wave of unhappy folks along with it.

A Change.org petition has cropped up to "keep the flag of the state of Mississippi flying at the University of Mississippi" in the vote's aftermath, started by student senator Andrew Soper.

Clearly, he's not having it with his peers' decision.

"In order to live in a free society, the possibility to be offended will occasionally occur," reads the petition, which also encourages Mississippians to push back [against] political correctness. "Removing symbols, flags, and monuments will do nothing to change the way people feel in their hearts."

The Mississippi state flag hanging among the others near the Senate subway in Washington, D.C. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

As of Oct. 21, 2015, the petition had also garnered more than 200 supporters. And at a rally promoting the removal of the flag last week, flag supporters — and even some members of the Ku Klux Klan — showed up to voice their (unashamedly racist) opinions, too — loud and clear.

Still, the fact that the student senators want to turn a corner — albeit a largely symbolic one — is important.

For student leaders to take this step at a school where riots infamously broke out after its first black student was admitted five decades ago is a momentous sign of progress that should be celebrated well beyond the Deep South.

"This decision is not an act of defiance towards our great state," student body executive officers said in a statement, "but a genuine call-to-action in response to the cries of those who have been negatively impacted by such a symbol, individuals in which we share our classrooms, our workplaces, our relationships, and our friendships."

Update (Oct. 27, 2015): The University of Mississippi removed its state flag from campus on Oct. 26, 2015, The New York Times reported.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
True

Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

Keep Reading Show less
Wikiimages by Pixabay, Dr. Jacqueline Antonovich/Twitter

The 1776 Report isn't just bad, it's historically bad, in every way possible.

When journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones published her Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project for The New York Times, some backlash was inevitable. Instead of telling the story of America's creation through the eyes of the colonial architects of our system of government, Hannah-Jones retold it through the eyes of the enslaved Africans who were forced to help build the nation without reaping the benefits of democracy. Though a couple of historical inaccuracies have had to be clarified and corrected, the 1619 Project is groundbreaking, in that it helps give voice to a history that has long been overlooked and underrepresented in our education system.

The 1776 Report, in turn, is a blaring call to return to the whitewashed curriculums that silence that voice.

In September of last year, President Trump blasted the 1619 Project, which he called "toxic propaganda" and "ideological poison" that "will destroy our country." He subsequently created a commission to tell the story of America's founding the way he wanted it told—in the form of a "patriotic education" with all of the dog whistles that that phrase entails.

Mission accomplished, sort of.

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.