Mississippi House votes to remove Confederate battle emblem from state flag

Around the South

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV)- The Mississippi House of Representatives voted Saturday afternoon to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag.

According to the resolution created by the Rules Committee, a commission will be formed to establish a flag that does not include the Confederate emblem.

The commission is responsible for developing new designs ideas. One replacement design that will be included on the ballot is the phrase “In God we Trust.”

Mississippi voters will have the choice to accept or decline the new state flag in November 2020.

The House passed the flag bill in a two-thirds majority with 85 yeas and 34 nays to advance the bill.

The bill will now move to the State Senate. In order to pass it must receive two-thirds of approval.

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves said Saturday, for the first time, that he would sign a bill to change the flag if the Legislature passes one. He had previously said that he would not veto one – a more passive stance.

Mississippi has the last state flag that includes the Confederate battle emblem – a red field topped by a blue X with 13 white stars.

The battle emblem has been in the upper-left corner of the Mississippi flag since 1894. White supremacists in the Legislature put it there during backlash to the political power that African Americans gained after the Civil War.

The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the flag lacked official status. State laws were updated in 1906, and portions dealing with the flag were not carried forward. Legislators set a flag election in 2001, and voters kept the rebel-themed design.

But the flag has remained divisive in a state with a 38% Black population. All of the state’s public universities and several cities and counties have stopped flying it because of the Confederate symbol that many see as racist.

Influential business, religious, education and sports groups are calling on Mississippi to drop the Confederate symbol. Flag supporters say the banner should be left alone or put on the statewide ballot for voters to decide its fate.

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