Reported by Kacie Whaley
A Mississippi heritage group has created an initiative calling for an amendment of the Constitution to preserve some of the forgotten and generally undesired aspects of the Southern state’s traditions. The initiative may be on the 2016 ballot.
The Magnolia State Heritage Campaign intends to do something about the “forces of political correctness” that have spoiled the heavy usage of all things Confederate in Mississippi. This is why the group of proud Southerners created ‘Initiative 46,’ a lengthy list of customs that the group would like all Mississippians to practice, The Clarion-Ledger reported. The proposal suggests the Constitution be amended to enforce Christianity as the state’s official religion, English as its official language, place a Confederate army flag outside the state’s Capitol, and even change the state boundaries. It would also establish “Confederate Heritage Month,” which would provide a curriculum base for school children to learn about “Mississippi’s Confederate history, heritage, achievements, and prominent people,” the initiative reads.
“We want to give Mississippians the voice they deserve regarding their heritage,” said Arthur Randallson, director of the Magnolia group. “We believe people should get a chance to vote on these important issues and preserve these elements of our heritage.”
The initiative also wants to control the customs of the state’s universities. The University of Mississippi stopped using Colonel Rev as its mascot in 2003 because students said he resembled a slave master, but if the heritage initiative passes, they will be forced to dust him off and use him again. After any games at Ole Miss or other events where the national anthem is played, the proposal would require “Dixie” to be played immediately afterward.
More than 107,000 residents of Mississippi must sign a petition backing the initiative in order for it to appear on the 2016 ballot. With 11 months left to collect signatures, Randallson says gaining enough supporters will be “virtually guaranteed.”
Other Mississippi citizens who support Randallson’s efforts are former State Rep. Mark DuVall, former Miss America Susan Akin, and author Julie Hawkins.
But John Bruce, chair of the political science department at Ole Miss, is one of the naysayers.
“Ballot measures are inherently difficult to predict,” said Bruce. “I’m sure they will receive the signatures to make the ballot. Never say never, but at this point, [the initiative]looks like a long shot.”
Another nonbeliever is State Sen. David Jordan, who is also a member of the Legislative Black Caucus, nola.com reported. He says that not only is the heritage group’s measure regressive, but it will not gain enough supporters.
“It sounds like stumbling into the future backward, still fighting the Civil War,” Jordan said. “It’s going to bite the dust, like all the other extremist things.”