On episode #250 of his podcast, the BobbyCast, Bobby Bones chatted with Charlie Worsham about his call for his home state of Mississippi to change the state flag, which bears the likeness of a Confederate flag. Worsham shared his stance on the issue on Thursday, July 25th by retweeting fellow Mississippi resident Faith Hill’s impassioned plea for the change, writing, “yes. thank you, Faith.”
Worsham gets emotional when talking about the reasoning for this belief, explaining that his own father observed the racism of the south firsthand when he was a junior in high school in Grenada, MS. Worsham says that on the first day of allowing Black students to attend the school, his father witnessed a crowd of people waiting outside to beat the students and even saw a student get his leg broken while police failed to intervene.
“The thing about the Mississippi flag is that the people who were beating those students were waving that flag,” says Worsham.
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This is Booker T. and Beulah Gillespie, my grandparents on my mom’s side. They both were children with interracial parents. I never met any of them. Booker T.’s parents were Cherokee and Black. Beulah’s parents were White and Black so this would have been during a time where such a relationship was illegal. Beulah’s mom grew tired of the constant danger the relationship caused so she abandoned Beulah, her Sister Aignes and her dad. Her dad called on his sister to help raise the 2 girls. Beulah was an entrepreneur. She was one of the first black women to own a daycare, a taxi company and a boarding house which is how she met Booker T. They married in 1949. Booker T. served in the Korean War. After the war, he held a fulltime job at Nabisco while also working fulltime as a handyman. Booker T. just turned 92 in March and is still the hardest working person I know. I definitely get my work ethic from them. Beulah passed in 1999 at the age of 80. Because of the way I grew up, I don’t know much about our family history. I spoke with my grandad once and he mentioned that most of his family came from East TN but that’s all I really know. Days like #juneteenth are important to celebrate because it’s a reminder of who you are and where you come from. Some stories aren’t as pleasant as others but the important thing to remember is we’re all here together. The only way we can grow is by acknowledging the errors of the past so we can push forth in the best possible way. ❤️ -Jerry Pentecost @jerrypentecost
He continues, saying that even though he is the descendant of a Confederate soldier, he doesn’t see pride in waving a flag that features the symbol of the Confederacy. He also clarifies that his stance on changing the flag does not negate the pride he has for his state as a whole, but that he wants all people to feel welcome in his state.
“I am proud of my home state. There’s so much to be proud of,” he says. “I’ve got friends from Texas, and they wave that flag proudly, and I want to be able to do the same thing. I want to be able to invite my friends to Mississippi, and for those of them who aren’t white, that flag is a scary thing. Whatever reason someone might have to keep it, to me, it just doesn’t outweigh the fact that it really has been a symbol of hate for a long time.”
In addition to talking about the flag issue, Charlie and Bobby chatted about Vince Gill’s song, “Black And White,” which appears on Gill’s Okie album and was written by Gill and Worsham. The song, which calls for people to work together, came out of a conversation that was sparked after Worsham asked Gill, “How’s your heart?”
“For him, someone who lived through the ‘60s like my dad did, he saw firsthand the hate, but also the ability for a whole lot of people to come together in unity and work for positive change,” he says of writing the song. “I think we have this tendency to think that things were better ‘back when,’ and I think the reason for that is life is always a struggle. Being in a country and a community and a society is always going to be a struggle, but over time, the really nasty parts sort of fade away and we remember and hold up the beautiful things.”
Bobby and Charlie also chatted about Charlie’s debut at the Opry at 12 years old and the possibility of both of them running for political office someday. To hear their full conversation and more from Bobby, listen to episode #250 of the BobbyCast.