Governor withdraws Mississippi’s Confederate-themed flag

Governor withdraws Mississippi's Confederate-themed flag

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves will sign a bill Tuesday evening to withdraw the last US state flag with the Confederate battle emblem.

His office announced a signing ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion, two days after a broad coalition of legislators passed the landmark measure to change the flag.

As soon as the Republican governor signs the bill, the flag loses its official status. Mississippi is under increasing pressure to change its flag as protests against racial injustice have focused attention on Southern symbols.

The state flag has been a source of division for generations.

White supremacist lawmakers placed the Confederate battle emblem, with its red field topped with a blue X with 13 white stars, in the top left corner of the Mississippi flag in 1894, when whites suppressed the fragile political power that African Americans had acquired. civil war.

Critics have said for generations that it is wrong for a state where 38% of the population is black to honor the rebel emblem, especially because the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups have used it to promote racist agendas.

Mississippi voters chose to hold the flag at a 2001 statewide election, with supporters saying they see the flag as a symbol of heritage. But since then, a growing number of cities and all of the state’s public universities have given up.

Several black lawmakers and a few white ones have been pushing for years to change it. After a white gunman posing with the Southern flag killed black worshipers in a South Carolina church in 2015, Mississippi’s Republican House speaker Philip Gunn said his religious affiliation forced him to say that Mississippi should be the symbol of his flag remove.

But the issue was still widely regarded as too volatile for lawmakers to touch, until George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis sparked weeks of protests against racial injustice, followed by call after call to remove Confederate symbols.

A tidal wave of leaders in business, religion, education, and sports called on Mississippi to make this change, finally giving lawmakers the momentum to vote.

Reeves has repeatedly declined to say whether he thinks the Confederate-themed flag is a good representation of current Mississippi and is holding on to a position he drove on last year when he promised people that if the flag design were reconsidered it would happen at another national election.

Now a committee will design a new flag, one that should not contain the Confederate symbol and should have the words ‘In God We Trust’. Voters will be asked to approve the new design in the November 3 elections. If they reject it, the committee will draw up a different draft according to the same guidelines, which will later be sent to the voters.

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Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus.

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