Until 2021, Mississippi’s state flag was the only one in America to feature the confederate battle flag in its design.
A confederate flag has no place in any restaurant Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor plans to eat at.
According to People, the star of Ava DuVernay‘s latest film “Origin” was raised in Mississippi, a state with a long history of anti-Black racism, segregation, and slavery. Until 2021, the old Mississippi state flag was the only one in America to feature the confederate battle flag in its design.
Ellis-Taylor recalled spotting the confederate flag at a Hattiesburg, Mississippi, restaurant in an interview with IndieWire, saying they “just tried to evade any culpability” after she questioned the cashier about its appearance.
“I said, ‘You have people in this restaurant now who are Black, who are eating your food, who are working in this restaurant, and you have the flag of the confederacy, the flag of the Ku Klux Klan on your walls,'” said Ellis-Taylor, noting that two Black people were sitting under the flag eating.
“I got up out of there and I had to get catfish from somewhere else,” she added.
The white supremacist emblem and Civil War glorification was eliminated and replaced after Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves signed a measure into law in 2020, People reported.
“Origin,” based on Isabel Wilkerson’s 2020 non-fiction book “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” tackles enduring markers of inequality like confederate monuments and several other issues.
In her dual role as the book’s director and adapter, DuVernay dramatizes the tragic events of Wilkerson’s life, fusing her biographical elements with the author’s findings about the fundamental similarities between the Nazi persecution of European Jews, American racism, and the Dalits of India.
“What’s happening is not central, it’s not just the American experience,” she said. “It’s an experience that is vast, it’s wide, it’s cross-cultural, it crosses time. We are connected to the Indian experience, we are connected to the Jewish experience, and the knowledge of that gives us more strength to fight those forces that would keep those divisions in place.”
For Ellis-Taylor, who began her career in independent films and TV dramas, “Origin” is her only leading role and the closest she’s ever come to work reflecting her personal values.
“I think it is brave creatively, I think it is brave in its message, I think it confronts things in a way that is innovative,” Ellis-Taylor told People. “I wish everything I did was ‘Origin,’ tried to achieve the heights that ‘Origin’ tries to achieve.”
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