Sunday Reader – Flags, licenses, stickers

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Coverage of the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage arrived like a rainbow-colored thunderbolt Friday, temporarily distracting us from other big issues of the day like Confederate symbolism in our state flag, that a ban on texting and driving goes into effect this week and that state vehicle inspection stickers are going the way of the buggy whip.

Here’s a roundup of the readable in Mississippi newspapers this Sunday, June 28, 2015.

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Gray hangs up his green eyeshade

Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 9.57.58 AMThe social media accounts of the Daily Journal in Tupelo paid tribute Friday evening to longtime editor and career journalist Lloyd Gray. The three-time winner of MPA’s Emmerich Award for Editorial Excellence announced in May he would depart the paper and return to his hometown of Meridian to run the Phil Hardin Education Foundation.

Gray was a constant, steady and guiding presence at MPA through the years, even before arriving in Tupelo in 1992. He previously worked for the Sun Herald in Biloxi and The Meridian Star and is a past president of MPA and past chairman of the MPA Education Foundation. We wish him all the best.

How gay marriage played in Mississippi

MS_HAThe state’s largest dailies all covered on their front pages Saturday the Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay unions in all 50 states in a landmark 5-4 decision. The Hattiesburg American (right) may have been the only one to completely turn page one over to the story, while The Clarion-Ledger, Tupelo Daily Journal and Sun Herald all featured the story prominently.

MORE COVERAGE

  • Supporters of marriage equality gathered in celebration on the Lee County Justice Center steps Friday morning – Daily Journal
  • The wait is not entirely over; in a technicality, 5th Circuit still must lift official ban – Sun Herald
  • Our neighbors to the west are not issuing same sex marriage licenses yet, either – The Natchez Democrat
  • Some (most?) state officials are predictably not pleased by the high court’s ruling – The Clarion-Ledger

Paper editorializes for change – front and center

MS_SHThe Sun Herald in Biloxi took the rare step of turning its front page into an editorial calling for a change to the state flag.

“For too long, we have lived with the fantasy that we can exist in the splendid isolation of an era shrouded in romantic notions and a remarkably wrong understanding of its meaning.”

In Jackson, The Clarion-Ledger asked on its front page this morning whether the state flag is bad for business.

“Missed economic opportunity was one of the arguments used by groups who urged voters toward an alternate design in the 2001 referendum in which 64 percent of those who participated chose the flag with the Confederate emblem in its upper left corner.

House Transportation Committee chairman Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Natchez, used the same argument Wednesday in an interview with the paper.

“‘You consider that Amazon, eBay, Wal-Mart — all these companies are taking (Confederate merchandise) off the shelf, and they are part of the free-market economy. It just doesn’t make sense for us to have it in any way in an official capacity,’ said Johnson, whose committee develops transportation policy, one of the primary drivers of economic development. ‘Anybody who says it doesn’t have a bearing on our ability to attract more people and jobs to our state is just not looking at reality.'”

On its editorial page, The Neshoba Democrat ponders the response to the horrific church shootings in Charleston and reaches the conclusion the debate on the Confederate symbol provides the opportunity to have a broad, necessary conversation about race in the United States.

“We do need to begin having conversations about changing Mississippi’s flag.

“And those discussions about the flag could be modeled after those in Neshoba County in 2004 when there was a call for justice in the Mt. Zion murders and like 1989 when there was a public apology here and our community got to know some of the families of the slain men, which put an entirely different perspective on one of the most heinous race crimes in American history at that time.”

MEANWHILE