Mississippi Legislature Votes to Remove State Flag Featuring Confederate Emblem

Tanya Simon
June 29, 2020

The 91-23 vote comes as MS lawmakers in recent weeks have been weighing a change to their flag amid the continued racial justice protests across the country. MS is the last state in the country whose flag features the Confederate emblem.

Democratic Sen. David Jordan told his colleagues just before the vote that MS needs a flag that unifies rather than divides. "All those things are real, but the bottom line is this is just the right thing to do".

Yes, but: The state House and Senate need to first approve extending the deadline to consider a bill past normal deadlines with a two-thirds majority. Earlier in the day, it was passed by the Mississippi House of Representatives with a 91-23 vote. "If they send me a bill this weekend, I will sign it". The bill says the new flag shall not include the Confederate battle flag, and the new flag must include the words "In God We Trust".

The SEC issued a statement of support after the MS legislature voted to change the state's flag. If a majority rejects it, the commission will design a new flag using the same guidelines.

Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn, who is white, has pushed for five years to change the flag, saying the Confederate symbol is offensive.

The flag was adopted in 1894, and it has red, white, and blue stripes with the Confederate symbol at the top left.

The Mississippi Legislature approved a bill that would change the state flag.

That dynamic shifted as an extraordinary and diverse coalition of political, business, religious groups and sports leaders pushed for change.

In the wake of Floyd's death and the Black Lives Matter protests and riots, many symbols of the Confederacy have been removed, including a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee at Richmond's Monument Avenue.

In a sports-crazy culture, the biggest blow might have happened when college sports leagues said MS could lose postseason events if it continued flying the Confederate-themed flag. He previously said he would not veto one - a more passive stance.

COVID-19 cases increase to 994 in Marshall County
Neighboring counties have also seen a rise in new cases and hospitalizations. 1 new death has been reported since Saturday. Nationwide, more than 44,000 new cases were reported Saturday, the second day in a row they reached more than 40,000.

In a sports-crazy culture, the biggest blow might have happened when college sports leagues said MS could lose postseason events if it continued flying the Confederate-themed flag.

Athletic directors and coaches from MS universities have also urged lawmakers to act. For quite a while, I saw the flag as a symbol of Southern pride, associating it more with Lynyrd Skynyrd than with slavery. The Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups have waved the rebel flag for decades.

Last week coaches and athletic department staff from Ole Miss, MSU, Jackson State, Alcorn State, Mississippi Valley State and Southern Miss each visited the statehouse in Jackson to present a united front in favor of removing the flag.

In 2000, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that the flag lacked official status. A commission to resign the flag will be created by September 14, 2020.

This flag will soon be changing.

Legislators then opted not to set a flag design themselves, and put the issue on the 2001 statewide ballot.

Governor Tate Reeves stated in a Facebook post that he will sign the bill.

The Magnolia State is the last in the nation to have the stars and bars on its state banner.

.

"By changing our flag, we don't abandon our founding principles", he said.

"I would never have thought that I would see the flag come down in my lifetime", said Democratic Senator Barbara Blackmon of Canton, who is African American. "Today is a history-making day in the state of Mississippi", Simmons told colleagues before the Senate voted for passage.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER