A simple Twitter message from Mississippi State University running back Kylin Hill was one of the voices that contributed to the Mississippi Legislature voting Sunday (June 28) to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag.
The bill to eliminate the emblem passed in the House of Representatives 91-23 and 37-14 in the Senate.
On June 22, Hill tweeted: “Either change the flag or I won’t be representing this state anymore and I meant that. I’m tired.”
Hill’s tweet expressed the frustration of African-Americans about the systemic oppression and racial inequality rampant throughout the country.
His willingness to sit out the 2020 season turned a lot of heads within the state and around the nation, garnering widespread support on social media and beyond.
Representatives from various schools around the state, including Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Southern Mississippi, gathered in the state capital of Jackson last week to encourage the removal of the emblem.
Mississippi State football head coach Mike Leach and Ole Miss football head coach Lane Kiffin emphatically expressed their desire for the emblem to be removed.
Before the Legislative vote, Leach told ESPN that the flag doesn’t “elevate” the community.
“The purpose of a state flag is to create pride and enthusiasm amongst the citizens,” he said. “It should also create great energy to elevate the economy, education and athletics. The current flag doesn’t do that. We need a state flag that everyone is proud of.”
Kiffin told the sports news outlet the flag does not represent Ole Miss and by removing the emblem from Mississippi’s flag, they are creating a “more welcoming environment.”
“We removed the flag from our campus five years ago, so we’ve made it clear that it doesn’t represent who we are at Ole Miss,” he said.
They were joined by representatives of the Magnolia State’s other institutions of higher learning.
The state original flag came into existence in February of 1894. White supremacists in the Legislature put it there during backlash to the political power that African Americans gained during Reconstruction after the Civil War.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said he will sign the bill, which includes the formation of a commission to redesign the flag, ridding it of the Confederate symbol while maintaining the “In God We Trust” slogan.
Voters will have change to reject or approve a redesigned flag on the November ballot.
Hill posted several tweets celebrating the removal of the emblem, stating “If you from Mississippi you felt this one” and “big salute to every university in the state that helped”.
Isaiah Dorris, a student of color at MSU, expressed joy when hearing about the state Legislature’s decision to remove the Confederate emblem. A sophomore, Dorris admired the courage of Hill to speak out despite the running back’s stance having the potential to negatively impact his pro prospects.
“I think that was probably one of the biggest statements ever from a college player with as much at stake as he has,” Dorris said.