The House of Representatives and the Senate of Mississippi voted, Sunday, June 28, the removal of a Confederate symbol on the flag of this State of the south of the United States. The move comes as a wave of anti-racist protests across the United States has rekindled controversy over the persistence of symbols of slavery.
The current flag, adopted in 1894, includes the standard – red background, diagonal blue cross with small white stars – which represented the Southern States, opposed to the abolition of slavery, during the American Civil War ( 1861-1865).
The removal of the emblem was approved Sunday by the Mississippi House of Representatives by a majority of 91 votes to 23. The vote sparked clamors of approval in 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.
Law passed Sunday calls for nine-member commission to design new flag to include phrase « In God We Trust » (” We believe in God “), 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 has been approved.
A change rejected in 2001
Mississippi Democrat Senator John Horhn said changing the flag alone would not dissipate the effects of the racist past in the southern United States. “But it is a great step on the way to the recognition of humanity and of the value given by God to everyone”, did he declare.
Governor Tate Reeves, who was not in favor of the flag debate, said on Saturday that he would not use his veto and would pass the law if it was passed.
Mississippi, with a long segregationist past, is the last state to display this badge on its flag since Georgia renounced it in 2003. Two years earlier, Mississippi’s elected officials had voted overwhelmingly for the conservation of the current flag, considered by its defenders as a symbol of the historic heritage of the southern United States.
But in the context of the recent protests after the death of George Floyd, the debate has been strongly revived in the state. Symbol of the country’s troubled history, the flag is part, like the statues of the Confederate generals or slavery leaders, of the emblems questioned.
A black parliamentarian, Edward Blackmon Jr., pointed this out to his colleagues during the debate on Saturday, referring to the flag fluttering on the building of the House of Representatives in Jackson, the state capital.
“I imagine that many of us do not even see this flag anymore”, more “Some of us notice it every time we enter here, and it’s not a pleasant feeling”, did he declare.
“A symbol of terror for our black brothers and sisters”
The movement to change the flag had gained momentum in several sectors of society in the past week. Kylin Hill, a star player on the Mississippi State University football team, had tweeted : “Change the flag or I will no longer represent this state”. ” I mean seriously “, said Hill, an African American. ” I have enough “.
Either change the flag or I won’t be representing this State anymore 💯 & I meant that .. I’m tired https://t.co/IzizpWLoIg
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 sports officials, joined the movement.
“I understand that many see the current flag as a symbol of southern heritage and pride”, a tweeted Faith Hill, a country music star. “But we have to understand that this flag is a symbol of terror for our black brothers and sisters”.
I understand many view the current flag as a symbol of heritage and Southern pride, but we have to realize that th… https://t.co/aAxy8HQkPg
The Nascar automobile championship, particularly popular in the South, has just banned it on its circuits, where it could be seen brandished by fans.