Politicians in the American state of Mississippi have taken an important step toward removing the Confederate emblem from the state flag.
On Saturday, both houses of the Republican-led state congress voted to begin the process of changing the flag.
Mississippi is the last state in the US to present the emblem on its flag.
The Confederate emblem is seen by many as a racist symbol, and recent protests over the death of George Floyd reignite debate over its use.
The flag was originally used by the slave-owning states that lost the United States Civil War (1861-65).
The vote was passed in both houses of the Mississippi legislature: in the House of Representatives by an 84-35 margin, and then in the Senate by 36-14.
It means that a bill to change the state flag can now be formally tabled. It is expected to be proposed on Sunday when the state congress returns to session, US media reports.
A two-thirds majority was needed to start the process. This was seen as the most important test because only a simple majority is needed to pass the final bill.
And in a big boost to the movement for change, Republican Governor Tate Reeves said he would sign a bill to do so if it passed in Congress.
He had previously said he would not veto a bill, but did not publicly endorse it.
“The discussion about the 1894 flag has become as divisive as the flag itself and it is time to end it,” he wrote on Twitter.
He added: “We should not have the illusion that a vote on Capitol Hill is the end of what must be done: the job before us is to unite the state.”
“I never thought I’d see the flag drop in my life,” Democrat Barbara Blackmon, who is African American, said Saturday.
If the bill passes, a commission will design a new flag, to be voted on in November.
Hundreds of statues dedicated to the Confederacy, the southern states that rebelled against the U.S. government, exist throughout the U.S. And often serve as a reminder of the history of slavery and racial oppression in The USA.
But the deep feeling that followed the death of George Floyd has led to renewed demands to end institutional racism. In the United States and other countries, statues of controversial historical figures have been toppled or toppled.