Lawmakers voted on Sunday to abolish the state flag of Mississippi, the last country with the Confederate battle symbol, more than 126 years since it was adopted. On Sunday, the House and Senate passed a bill that would effectively abolish the state flag and Gov. Tate Reeves announced that he would sign the bill into law. A nine-person commission will be hired to develop a single new design by September and that design will be approved or rejected by Mississippi voters on the November 2020 ballot. Mississippi, meanwhile, will have no official flag of the state.
The historic vote has brought tears to many legislators’ eyes. Soon after the final votes were cast, Cheers erupted in the halls of the Mississippi State Capitol, and many Mississippians who visited the building openly wept to witness the moment.
Many found the flag, long a point of political contention in Mississippi, to be a sign of hatred. In 2001, Mississippi voters voted to retain the controversial symbol on the state flag almost 2-to-1 and solidified its place on the official state banner for almost two decades. Via the usual legislative process, supporters of changing the flag have been unable to gain the simple majority required to alter the controversial banner for years.
Tremendous Pressure from Politics
Yet George Floyd’s violent death, a Black man, sparked national demonstrations in Minneapolis that entered Mississippi, shining new light on the state flag. And in recent weeks, there has been tremendous pressure from political, corporate, cultural, academic, sports and other leaders to remove from the flag the Confederate symbol.
A rising list of corporations, cities, counties and other organizations either stopped flying the flag or requested that the leaders change it. Religious leaders spoke out saying that changing the flag was a “moral issue.” This month the NCAA, SEC, and Conference USA took action to ban Mississippi postseason play until the flag was changed.
Johnson said that Mississippi needs help with many problems. It includes poverty and inadequate health care, but the country and the world “have been hesitant” to partner. It is with Mississippi and that removing the Confederate symbol flag would help.
Senate Debate Continues
Sunday’s Senate debate stretched about two hours. It is with some senators suggesting that the question would go to the electorate rather than politicians making it. Once the bill approves, several senators rebut the claim.
The House on Sunday passed the bill by a 92-23 vote, with eight more House representatives voting to approve. The final bill than they were on Saturday’s procedural vote. The Senate passed the bill by 37-14 votes, with one more member of the Senate voting. It is to pass the bill than it did on Saturday.
For weeks, the controversy about the state flag captured Mississippians’ close attention. The news reverberated across the state through Sunday’s final vote in the Senate. Most famous Mississippians have expressed gratitude for this.
Now focus shifts to the next steps in creating a new state flag.
According to the resolution, if voters oppose the proposal in November. The commission will propose a new alternative during the legislative session of 2021. The commission appoints by Gov Tate Reeves, Lt. Gov Delbert Hosemann and the Speaker Philip Gunn.
The three appointees of the Governor will be members of the Mississippi Economic Council. Also, the Mississippi Arts Commission and the Archives and History Department of Mississippi. Hosemann and Gunn do not face any specific requirements for appointing commissions. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History will have up to 15 days. It is to formally retire the new state flag after Reeves signs the bill into law.