Applause and applause came after the House and Senate successively voted to remove the flag
Mississippi lawmakers voted on Sunday to deliver the Confederate battle emblem of their state flag, eliciting strident applause and applause more than a century after white supremacist lawmakers adopted the bill a generation after the south lost the Civil War.
The Mississippi House and Senate voted successively on Sunday afternoon to withdraw the flag, each chamber drawing broad bipartisan support for the historic decision. Republican government
Tate Reeves said he will sign the bill and the state flag will lose its official status as soon as he signs the measure. He did not immediately signal when the signing would take place.
The state faced mounting pressure to change its flag over the past month amid international protests against racial injustice in the United States.
Applause and applause broke out when lawmakers embraced the Senate with a final pass. Even those on the opposite side of the issue also embraced each other when an emotional day of debate ended. The bells could also be heard ringing in the state capital, when the approval of the measure was announced.
A commission would design a new flag that cannot include the Confederate symbol and should have the words “In God We Trust”.
Voters will be asked to approve the new design in the November 3 election. If they reject it, the commission will define a different design, using the same guidelines, which will be sent to voters later.
Mississippi has a black population of 38% – and the last state flag that incorporates the emblem that is widely seen as racist.
The president of the Chamber of Deputies, Philip Gunn, white, lobbied for five years to change the flag, saying that the symbol of the Confederation is offensive. The House passed bill 91-23 on Sunday afternoon and the Senate passed it 37-14 later.
“How good it is to celebrate that on the Sabbath,” said Gunn. “Many prayed to Him to bring us to this day. He answered.”
The debate about changing the flag had already surfaced before, and in recent years, an increasing number of cities and all public universities in the state overthrew it on their own. But the issue has never received sufficient support in the conservative legislature dominated by Republicans or with recent governors.
This dynamic changed in a matter of weeks, when an extraordinary and diverse coalition of politicians, companies, religious groups and sports leaders pushed to change the flag.
In a Black Lives Matter protest outside Mississippi Governor’s Mansion in early June, thousands applauded when an organizer said the state needs to divorce all Confederate symbols.
Religious groups – including the large and influential Baptist Mississippi Convention – have said that erasing the rebel emblem from the state flag is a moral imperative.
Business groups said the flag impedes the economic development of one of the country’s poorest states.
In a sports-mad culture, the biggest blow may have come when the college sports leagues said that Mississippi could miss the postseason events if it continued with the Confederacy flag. Nearly four dozen sports directors and coaches at the University of Mississippi came to the Capitol to lobby for changes.
“We need something that serves the purpose of being a state flag and that everyone in the state has reason to be proud of,” said Mike Leach, football coach at Mississippi State University.
Many people who wanted to keep the emblem on the Mississippi flag said they saw it as a symbol of heritage.
Lawmakers placed the Confederate emblem in the upper left corner of the Mississippi flag in 1894, when whites were stifling the political power that African Americans gained after the Civil War.
The battle emblem is a red field topped by a blue X with 13 white stars. The Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups have been waving the rebel flag for decades. Georgia placed the battle emblem on its state flag in 1956, during a reaction to the civil rights movement. That state removed the symbol from its banner in 2001.
The Mississippi Supreme Court found in 2000 that, when the state updated its laws in 1906, parts related to the flag were not included. This meant that the banner had no official status. Democratic Governor Ronnie Musgrove in 2000 appointed a commission to decide the future of the flag. It held hearings across the state that got ugly when people shouted at each other over the flag.
After that, lawmakers chose not to define the design of the flag. They put the issue up for a vote across the state in 2001 and people voted to keep the flag. An alternative proposal would have replaced the Confederate corner with a blue field topped by a cluster of white stars representing Mississippi as the 20th state.
Democratic Senator Derrick Simmons of Greenville, who is African American, said the state deserves a flag that will make everyone proud. “Today is a historic day in the state of Mississippi,” Simmons told colleagues before the Senate voted to pass. “We will vote today for tomorrow’s Mississippi.”