Lawmakers in the Mississippi House and Senate voted Sunday to remove the Confederate battle emblem from their state flag, which is the last in the nation to display the symbol. There was loud applause in both houses on Sunday after the votes that took place a day after Governor Tate Reeves said for the first time that he would sign the bill if he obtained approval from state lawmakers.
The vote follows years of pressure for the state to change the flag that several cities and all state public universities have withdrawn on their own. But despite all the years of debate, in the end the vote was not even closed in the state that has a black population of 38 percent. The state House passed bill 91-23 on Sunday afternoon, and then the Senate passed measure 37-14. “Today, we and the rest of the nation can look at our state with new eyes, with pride and hope,” said Speaker of the House of Representatives Philip Gunn, a Republican who has been pushing for the state to change the flag. for five years.
Although there has been a campaign for years to get the state to change the flag that many saw as a symbol of racism, segregation and slavery, pressure on the state increased in the last month amid protests against police brutality and racism Systemic that have engulfed the country For many residents of the state that has the highest percentage of African Americans in the country, the flag was a painful reminder of the state’s history. “I guess a lot of you don’t even see that flag in the corner,” state Rep Ed Blackmon said Saturday. “There are some of us who notice it every time we walk in here, and it’s not a good feeling.”
Before the votes, lawmakers made emotional speeches to expose why the state flag should change, while those who defended it insisted that it should be up to voters to make such a monumental decision through a referendum. “Whether we like it or not, the Confederate emblem on our state’s flag is seen by many as a symbol of hatred, there is no way to avoid that fact,” said Jason White, a Republican state representative, on the floor of the House on Saturday. .
Now, a commission will be tasked with designing a new state flag that cannot include the Confederate symbol and must contain the words “In God We Trust”. Voters will have to give final approval to the new design in the November election.
To learn more about Slate’s news coverage, subscribe to The Gist at Apple podcasts or listen below.
Readers like you make our work possible. Help us continue to provide reports, comments and criticism that you won’t find anywhere else.
Join Slate Plus