(Reuters) – Mississippi lawmakers voted to remove a Confederation slavery symbol from the Deep South state flag, the latest symbol of racism that came amid outrage over the police murder of George Floyd, a man black in Minnesota.
Both houses of the legislature voted this weekend to remove the symbol and appoint a panel to design a new flag, according to media reports. Republican state Governor Tate Reeves said Saturday he would sign the bill if the legislature passes it.
“We are better today than yesterday,” Speaker of the House of Representatives Philip Gunn, author of the bill passed Sunday, told the non-profit news organization Mississippi Today. “Today, the future has taken root in the present. Today, we and the rest of the nation can look at our state with new eyes, with pride and hope. ”
In the 19th century, the southern states, at the prospect of having to abandon slavery, formed the Confederacy and separated from the United States, leading to the Civil War of 1861-1865.
Symbols of failed rebellion were erected throughout the South during the years of racial segregation and violence known as Jim Crow, and despite years of progress and civil rights for African Americans, many states resisted removing them.
But after a video showing a white officer fatally pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes sparked outrage that sent tens of thousands of Americans of all ethical backgrounds to the streets during weeks of protests, the symbols Confederates have been going down.
“The discussion about the 1894 flag has become as divisive as the flag itself and it is time to end it,” Reeves wrote on Facebook on Saturday. “If they send me an invoice this weekend, I will sign it.”
Walmart said Tuesday it would no longer display the flag in its stores, in accordance with its decision not to sell the Confederate flag merchandise in stores and online sites.
Report by Sharon Bernstein; edition by Grant McCool