Mississippi House and Senate Vote to Remove Confederate Icon from State Flag

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tags: Confederacy, Mississippi, State flag

The last state flag in the nation to prominently feature the Confederate battle emblem is poised to come down across Mississippi, after state lawmakers voted Sunday to replace the 126-year-old design.

Amid a national reckoning over racial injustice, the state House, and then the Senate, approved the measure to loud applause. By late Sunday, the bill was headed to Gov. Tate Reeves (R), who indicated previously that he would sign it. With his approval, the flag must be removed from government buildings within 15 days through a process that is “prompt, dignified and respectful.”

The flag’s retirement gained legislative approval late in the afternoon, by margins of 91 to 23 in the House and 37 to 14 in the Senate, after senators tabled an amendment that would have left the decision with voters via a referendum. Before voting, lawmakers lined up to offer impassioned speeches both for and against replacing the flag, which has weathered previous criticism and removal attempts.

“In the name of history, I stand for my two sons who are 1 and 6 years old,” said Sen. Derrick Simmons (D), who is black. “Who should be educated in schools, be able to frequent businesses and express their black voices in public spaces that all fly a symbol of love, not hate. A symbol of unity, not division. A symbol that represents all Mississippians, not some.”

Sen. Chris McDaniel (R), one of the most vocal opponents of changing the flag, argued that doing so could lead to a slippery slope, saying attempts are being made nationally to challenge the nation’s founding and history. He made a final plea for voters to be allowed to choose.

“After all,” he said, “it’s their state, not ours.”

But in a state that is nearly 40 percent black, the flag’s Confederate iconography has long been divisive. Adopted in 1894, nearly 30 years after the end of the Civil War, it features the Confederate emblem — 13 white stars atop a blue X with a red background — in the upper-left corner.

Read entire article at Washington Post

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