The Mississippi state House of Representatives passed a bill Sunday to remove the Confederate flag from the state flag, and the Senate is expected to pass the measure later today.
The lower house voted 91-23 to remove the flag symbol, which has flown since 1894. It was the last state flag of the nation to contain the symbol. The legislation, drafted by Speaker of the House of Representatives Philip Gunn (R), requires that the current flag be removed immediately, after which a nine-person commission would be appointed to design a new one, Mississippi Today reported.
Under the terms of the bill, the commission would recommend a new flag design in mid-September, and Mississippi voters will approve or veto the design on November 3, the publication reported.
Governor Tate Reeves (R) has said he will sign any bill that hits his desk. The bill is subject to change before final Senate approval, but under the terms of the bill, Reeves, Gunn and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann would appoint three people to the commission, according to the publication.
While the individuals appointed by Reeves must represent the State Economic Council, the Arts Commission, and the Department of Archives and History, the persons designated by Gunn and Hosemann are not subject to such specific requirements, according to Mississippi Today.
State officials have long resisted changing the flag’s design, but nationwide protests of racism and police brutality since the May 25 death of George Floy d in Minneapolis have given new impetus to efforts, and they follow NASCAR which bans the use of the bipartisan and Confederate flag. Senate support for a proposal to change the name of military bases named in honor of Confederate officers.
The 2015 murder of nine black parishioners by white supremacist Dylann Roof in Charleston, South Carolina, sparked similar movements in Palmetto state, with the state capitol removing its Confederate flag in the wake of the shooting.