Miss. lawmakers vote to change state flag

Ruben Hill
June 29, 2020

In 2001, MS voters decided almost 2-to-1 to keep the divisive emblem on the state flag, solidifying its place on the official state banner for almost two decades.

Governor Tate Reeves tweeted on Saturday that with state legislators deadlocked for days as they consider a new flag "it's time to end it".

The House passed a bill 91-23 with broad bipartisan support, sending it to the Senate for more debate.

On June 22, Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill made it clear he would not suit up again for the Bulldogs unless the state flag was changed.

A commission will design a new flag that can not include the Confederate symbol and that must have the words "In God We Trust". The Democratic governor in 2000, Ronnie Musgrove, appointed a commission to decide the flag's future.

Under the legislation, the new design - without the Confederate symbol - would be put on the ballot November 3, but it would be the only choice.

The state House and Senate both approved a resolution to suspend legislative deadlines and introduce a bill to have a commission redesign the 126-year-old state flag. If the commission's design doesn't get majority approval in November, HB 1796 says the commission would design another new flag.

White supremacists in the Mississippi Legislature set the state flag design in 1894 during backlash to the political power that African Americans gained after the Civil War.

New Mississippi State coach Mike Leach - a man recently hired by the school and previously condemned for a tweet with a meme that contained a noose - said the state's flag wasn't serving its goal because it didn't bring all of its residents together. For quite a while, I saw the flag as a symbol of Southern pride, associating it more with Lynyrd Skynyrd than with slavery.

"But for most people throughout our nation and the world, they see that flag and think that it stands for hatred and oppression".

No doubt some will charge that changing the MS flag is a "politically correct" act of forgetting history. I believe that. Let's not steal their joy. "All the things I heard from those men at the podium - that none of us went up to speak about because we've been saying it for years - but all those things they talked about, we've been feeling for years".

Democratic state Sen. Derrick Simmons of Greenville, who is African American, said the state deserves a flag to make all people proud.

"It ought to be something that we all feel a sense of pride that when we see it, we know that that's about us", he said. "I'm especially grateful at age 97 to witness this step forward by the state I love".

Religious groups - including the large and influential Mississippi Baptist Convention - said erasing the rebel emblem from the state flag is a moral imperative. "The argument over the 1894 flag has become as divisive as the flag itself and it's time to end it".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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