MS changes state flag amid pressure from football world

Tanya Simon
June 30, 2020

State lawmakers voted to retire the current flag, and Mississippi GOP Gov. Tate Reeves is expected to sign the measure.

Republican Governor Tate Reeves also expressed his support noting that he will sign the bill following the decision. "We welcome this important move by state lawmakers to remove the symbol from prominence in the state, which will also open the opportunity to host NCAA championships after the recent expanded championship policy". He has not confirmed when he will sign the bill.

MS has a 38% Black population, and critics have said for generations that it's wrong to have a flag that prominently features an emblem many condemn as racist. For the entire eight years of my legislative career, I've had to walk into the Capitol and not only see the flag outside the Capitol but every morning we would do invocation and we would do a prayer and behind us we'd have the American flag and unfortunately, the Confederate flag.

Former Democrat governor Ronnie Musgrove had appointed a commission in 2000 concerning the status of the state flag.

A commission will design a new flag under guidelines that the flag must include "In God We Trust", but can not include the Confederate symbol. If voters reject it, the commission will design a new flag using the same guidelines.

Walmart on Tuesday said it would no longer display the flag in its stores, consistent with its decision to not sell merchandise with the Confederate flag from stores and online sites.

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The pressure began when SEC commissioner Greg Sankey issued a statement earlier in June stating that the conference would not hold any championship events in MS until the flag was changed.

The vote to remove the flag was an overwhelming "yes".

"We are better today than we were yesterday", Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, who authored the bill that passed on Sunday, told the non-profit news organization Mississippi Today. In other words, the banner lacked official status. Statewide hearings were held that were often met with heated disputes over the flag.

"How sweet it is to celebrate this on the Lord's day", Gunn said. Shortly after Hinson's transfer, MS lawmakers began the move to change the flag.

Legislators then opted not to set a flag design themselves and put the issue on the 2001 statewide ballot. The Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups have waved the rebel flag for decades. "So, we've made it clear that it doesn't represent who we are at Ole Miss", he said to ESPN. In Mississippi, of course, while the flag was just a symbol, the symbol is still like a symptom of the overall racial inequality that exists specifically in Mississippi.

"Today is a history-making day in the state of Mississippi", Simmons told colleagues.

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