Mississippi's governor says he'll sign a bill to remove the Confederate emblem from the state flag

The Mississippi State Capitol dome is visible in the distance as the flag of the state of Mississippi flies nearby in Jackson, MS on January 10, 2019.Brandon Dill for The Washington Post via Getty Images
  • Mississippi lawmakers are moving forward with an effort to remove the Confederate emblem from the state's flag.
  • Gov. Tate Reeves said in a statement on Saturday he will sign a bill to redesign the flag.
  • "The argument over the 1894 flag has become as divisive as the flag itself and it's time to end it," Reeves said.
  • If the bill passes, Mississippi's legislature would form a nine-member commission to design a new flag without the Confederate symbol.

Mississippi's House of Representatives and Senate voted Saturday to move forward with a bill that would remove the Confederate emblem from the state's flag — and the governor indicated he supports the effort.

A nationwide reckoning over racism in recent weeks has sparked a flurry of efforts to remove Confederate iconography across the country, from statues of generals to versions of the battle flag. Mississippi's flag, which includes the Confederate symbol in its top left-hand corner, has been a prominent target for anti-racism activists.

Mississippi's House voted 85-34 on Saturday afternoon to suspend the chamber's rules and allow lawmakers to consider a bill on a potential new state flag, according to Reuters. Several hours later, the Senate voted 36-14 in favor of allowing lawmakers to change the flag, The Clarion-Ledger reported.Advertisement

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves vowed in a statement on Saturday to sign a bill creating a new state flag if lawmakers agree on one.

"The argument over the 1894 flag has become as divisive as the flag itself and it's time to end it," Reeves said. "If they send me a bill this weekend, I will sign it."

He added that unifying the state over such a divisive issue would be a challenge, but urged the state's residents "to heal our wounds, to forgive, to resolve that the page has been turned, to trust each other."
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"The job before us it to bring the state together and I intend to work night and day to do it," Reeves continued. "It will be harder than recovering from tornadoes, harder than historic floods, harder than agency corruption, or prison riots or the coming hurricane season — even harder than battling the Coronavirus."

Saturday was not the first time Mississippi lawmakers have tried to change the flag. The state even held a referendum on the matter in 2001, but nearly 65% of residents voted to keep the current version. Mississippi's flag is currently the only state flag to retain the Confederate emblem, according to The New York Times.Advertisement

If this latest effort to change the flag succeeds, the Mississippi Legislature would form a nine-member commission to design a new flag, according to The Clarion-Ledger. The new flag would reportedly include the words, "In God We Trust," and voters would get to approve or reject the new design in November.

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