MS lawmakers vote to remove Confederate battle emblem from state flag

Elias Hubbard
June 30, 2020

MS will have a new flag after both branches of the legislature passed a bill to remove the Confederate emblem from the official state banner.

Republican John Faulkner congratulates Senator Briggs Hopson after the Senate voted to change the MS state flag. The state's governor is expected to sign the bill to remove the current flag into law. He had previously said that he would not veto one - a more passive stance.

"Mississippi needs to have a flag that is great for all the citizens in our state". "The argument over the 1894 flag has become as divisive as the flag itself and it's time to end it".

MS is the only American state to incorporate the battle standard on its official flag, after nearby Georgia voted for the symbol's removal from its own flag in 2003.

House Bill 1796 requires the current flag to be removed within 15 days of the bill's passing.

Several state governors have approved the removal of Confederate monuments amid the protests.

The news led to widespread reaction around the state, including in the sports world.

Lawmakers on Saturday delivered impassioned speeches for and against abandoning the Confederate symbol, which has endured previous challenges and continued to draw ardent defenders who see it as an important piece of the state's past. A two-thirds majority vote was needed Saturday from each chamber to suspend the rules, because the time had passed to consider a flag bill or any other general legislation.

That change took place with Sunday's passage of the bill, which Gov. Tate Reeves has vowed to sign.

That meant the banner lacked official status. The new design will be put on the ballot on 3 November.

Legislators put the Confederate emblem on the upper left corner of MS flag in 1894, as whites were squelching political power that African Americans had gained after the Civil War.

"I would never have thought that I would see the flag come down in my lifetime", said Democratic Senator Barbara Blackmon of Canton, who is African American.

Sen. Chris McDaniel (R), one of the most vocal opponents of the measure, described attempts to change it as part of an effort to challenge the founding values of the country, warning that the American flag was next.

Princeton University said Saturday it was removing the name of President Woodrow Wilson from its public policy school and a residential college, calling the former U.S. leader a racist.

People for and against the current flag filled the Capitol on Saturday. Should voters reject that design, the commission would present a new option during the 2021 legislative session, according to the resolution.

Notable among them was the state's largest church group, the 500,000-member Mississippi Baptist Convention, which called for change last week after not pushing for it before the 2001 election.

The flag, long a point of political contention in MS, was seen by many as a symbol of hate. That we are people that care for each other, that are willing to work together and willing to go forward together.

"Being a veteran, that's important to me - that you remember these guys that fought in battle, whether they're on the right side or the wrong side", Hartness said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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