Five days after the Charleston attack, Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn called for removal of the Confederate emblem that has been on the state flag since 1894. Republican Gunn, a leader in his local Baptist church, cited his faith and said: “I believe our state’s flag has become a point of offense that needs to be removed.”
In response, people who support the banner have been distributing yard signs with the slogan: “Keep the Flag. Change the Speaker.” The effort is led former Yazoo City Mayor Jeppie Barbour, a brother of Republican former Gov. Haley Barbour.
The signs are nearly identical to ones that dotted roadsides during the 2003 gubernatorial race, when Haley Barbour, a former Republican National Committee chairman, unseated one-term Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove. Back then, the slogan was: “Keep the Flag. Change the Governor.”
In 2003, there was no “paid for by” disclaimer on the signs, and a Haley Barbour spokesman said his campaign hadn’t funded the effort. The current signs also lack the payment disclosure.