Mississippi attorney Carlos Moore is sure about one thing – Mississippi’s state flag IS coming down.
In recent weeks, Moore has been at the center of a statewide debate over the discriminatory and racist nature of Mississippi’s state flag. Mississippi is the only southern state with the Confederate symbol still present on its state flag.
Moore, 39, filed a lawsuit in federal court against the state and its Governor, Phil Bryant, over the flag. On Tuesday, Moore joined other attorneys and religious leaders on the steps of the state capitol to rally against the flag.
“The state flag with its confederate emblem represents white supremacy, slavery, beatings, rape, lynchings, murders, insurrection, and treason. It is a constant reminder of the oppression African-Americans had to endure in the past and an implicit threat that it could happen again,” Moore told NBCBLK via email. “Removing the flag will change the hearts and minds of many in Mississippi because it will let those stuck in the past know that the state no longer sanctions or ratifies racial bigotry.”
Asked why he filed the lawsuit, Moore told CNN he did it for his 5-year-olddaughter and the generations of African American children to grow up in the state. And while he has received numerous death threats over the lawsuit, he said he will not allow fear to deter him.
“Removing the flag will change the hearts and minds of many in Mississippi because it will let those stuck in the past know that the state no longer sanctions or ratifies racial bigotry.”
“God has not given me a spirit of fear but of power,” he tells NCBBLK. “With that being said, I have taken all necessary precautions to protect my family, staff, and myself [including] full time security.”
According to the lawsuit, which Moore said he filed on February 29, the state flag “encourages or incites private citizens to commit acts of racial violence in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.”
It references the shooting deaths of nine in Charleston, SC, the bombing of a Wal-Mart in Mississippi in Nov 2015 and a noose being draped on the statue of James Meredith at the University of Mississippi as direct examples of “violent conduct” due to the symbol and what it represents.
According to reports, the Governor’s office sees the lawsuit as an attempt to “usurp the will of the people.” However, for Moore, the lawsuit is a statement that “enough is enough.”
“A large faction of those in the majority are proud, self-proclaimed rednecks and they will do anything to support segregation and the furtherance of white supremacy. This includes not properly funding public education and sending most of their kids to private school,” he said. “The majority in Mississippi wants to keep blacks uneducated and second class citizens. They hate "uppity" Negroes like me and fear nothing more than an educated black man that will stand flat foot, toe to toe, in their face. That is what I am doing with my lawsuit.”
Moore considers what’s happening in Mississippi is a litmus test of race relations in all of America.
“Mississippi has always drug its feet when it comes to civil rights and has had to be prodded and made to obey the federal civil rights laws,” he said. “They will likely have to be made to take the flag down even after the flag is ruled unconstitutional. I predict a mini civil war over that flag. I could only hope that I am wrong. Sometimes things must get worse before they can get better.”