Count Mississippi State star running back Kylin Hill as the latest athlete to use social media as a platform for demanding change. Hill, the SEC’s top returning rusher, tweeted that he will not represent the state anymore until the Mississippi state flag is changed.
The demand comes in direct response to the state’s ongoing debate over changing the flag, which contains a confederate emblem in its design. Recently, the SEC, Conference USA and the NCAA issued statements that they would prohibit championship events in Mississippi until the state made changes to the flag.
First-year Mississippi State coach Mike Leach issued a statement to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger supporting Hill’s right to speak out, but stopped short of advocating for a change to the flag.
“The biggest thing is that Kylin is entitled to his opinion just like everybody is,” Leach said. “If Kylin chooses to express his opinion, I think he should if he wants to. I think he definitely should because all opinions on all issues should be heard. I think that’s where we run into trouble in particular – the dialogue isn’t quite what it should be. Not everybody is listening to one another, and I think we have to get to that point. I applaud Kylin’s right to express his opinion really on any subject.”
Gov. Tate Reeves has been vocal that the people of Mississippi should decide whether the state flag should be changed, not legislators. On Monday, Reeves tweeted that a second flag option, which had been discussed over the weekend, did not meet the threshold of allowing the public to decide what was best for the future. The last vote on the state flag issue took place in 2001 when voters decided to keep the flag as is.
Hill is by far one of the most important players not only to his team, but arguably one of the best in the nation at his position. He rushed for 1,350 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, and has more than 2,400 career rushing yards with the Bulldogs.
Hill’s tweet is the latest example of an athlete using his or her platform to bring about change in the wake of greater spotlights being cast on racial injustices across the country. Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard briefly said he would hold out on playing after coach Mike Gundy was seen wearing a shirt for One America News — a far right-wing outlet that has been critical of the Black Lives Matter movement.