Mississippi State University football player Kylin Hill, one of the Southeastern Conference’s top running backs, laid down an ultimatum in a recent tweet regarding the Mississippi state flag.
“Either change the flag or I won’t be representing this state anymore and I meant that … I’m tired,” Hill tweeted Monday.
Mississippi’s state flag is the only flag in the U.S. to still incorporate the Confederate army's battle flag in its design.
Hill is not alone in taking a public stance against the current state flag.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said if the flag was not changed, the SEC would consider preventing any sports championships from being held in the state.
MSU President Mark Keenum responded to Sankey’s statement, emphasizing his solidarity with Stankey in his opposition to the flag. Keenum said MSU’s Student Association and faculty senate have officially opposed the flag for several years, and Keenum himself has had multiple in-person discussions with Governor Reeves advocating for the flag to be changed. Keenum also wrote a letter to the governor, lieutenant governor and Mississippi speaker of the house calling for the flag to be changed.
“The letter said, in part, that our flag should be unifying, not a symbol that divides us,” Keenum said.
The MSU Student Association also penned an open letter to Mississippi lawmakers.
“To the leaders of Mississippi, remember that you were elected to represent our state with dignity and pride and to lead Mississippi to a brighter tomorrow. It is past time that we have a state flag that does the same,” the letter concluded.
MSU Chief Communication Officer Sid Salter deferred making a comment on Hill’s statement to the Athletics department.
“I would direct any further response to Athletics, to either John Cohen or to someone who designates. The university normally doesn’t comment on individual student tweets. We certainly recognize the first amendment right of our students,” Salter said.
MSU Director of Athletics John Cohen expressed his implicit support for Hill on Tuesday in an interview on the SuperTalk Mississippi radio show.
“I think Kylin is showing a frustration that we all kind of feel here at Mississippi State," Cohen said. "I can’t speak for everyone around the state of Mississippi, but there’s definitely a frustration. I understand it completely. We are in full support of Kylin. He absolutely has the right to express his opinion, and obviously, it’s an opinion that is held by many, which is we need a change here in the state of Mississippi. I completely understand that.”