Parliamentarians decided Sunday by 91 votes to 23, that a new flag no longer bearing the banner of Confederation must be adopted by the state.
The Mississippi House of Representatives and Senate voted on Sunday to remove a Confederate symbol from the flag of that American state, which is the last to retain this reminder of the days of slavery. The move comes as a wave of anti-racist protests across the United States has rekindled controversy over the persistence of symbols evoking slavery.
Parliamentarians from Mississippi, a southern state in the United States, decided on Sunday that a new flag no longer bearing the Confederation standard should be adopted.
A new flag in November
The current flag features the standard – red background, blue cross diagonally with small white stars – which represented the Southern States, opposed to the abolition of slavery, during the Civil War (1861-1865).
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The removal of the emblem was approved Sunday by the Mississippi House of Representatives by a majority of 91 to 23 votes. The vote sparked clamors of approval from the public gallery. Then the Senate in turn approved the provision by 37 votes to 14, and senators celebrated the vote with cheers and hugs.
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Mississippi is the only state to have the Southern emblem on its flag since neighboring Georgia abandoned it in 2003. The law passed Sunday provides for a nine-member commission to design a new flag that will include the phrase “In God” We Trust “, the American currency.
Mississippi citizens will have to vote on the new flag in November. If they reject it, the state will not have a flag until a new design is approved.
“A big step”
A Democratic Senator from Mississippi, John Horhn, stressed that the flag change alone would not dispel the effects of the racist past of the southern United States. “But it is a big step on the road to the recognition of humanity and the value given by God to everyone,” he said.
Gov. Tate Reeves, who was not in favor of the flag debate, said on Saturday he would not use his veto and would enact the law if passed.
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The issue of racial discrimination has been the subject of particularly heated debate in the United States since the death in May of George Floyd, an African American who died after being suffocated during his arrest by a white police officer in Minneapolis.
His death sparked a wave of protests across the country against the abuse of force by police and racial discrimination. These protests have often resulted in riots that have resulted in deaths and looting. The movement also resulted in the degradation or destruction of statues of Confederation leaders and other historical figures accused of links to racism or slavery.
A “symbol of terror”
In 2001, Mississippi voted overwhelmingly to keep its current flag, considered by its defenders to be a symbol of the historical heritage of the southern United States. But in the context of recent protests, the debate has been revived in the state.
A black parliamentarian, Edward Blackmon, pointed this out to his colleagues during Saturday’s debate, referring to the flag that flies over the House of Representatives building in Jackson, the state capital. “I imagine a lot of us don’t even see that flag anymore,” but “some of us notice it every time we walk in here, and it’s not a pleasant feeling,” he said. he declares.
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The movement for a change of the flag had gathered momentum in several sectors of society over the past week. Kylin Hill, a star player on the Mississippi State University football team, tweeted: “Change the flag or I won’t represent this state anymore.” “I’m talking seriously,” Hill said. “I have enough”.
The next day, the powerful association of Mississippi Baptist churches called for the flag to be changed. Then other associations from various economic sectors, as well as officials from the sports world, joined the movement.
“I understand that many see the current flag as a symbol of Southern heritage and pride,” country music star Faith Hill tweeted. “But we must understand that this flag is a symbol of terror for our black brothers and sisters.”