The Mississippi House of Representatives on Saturday afternoon successfully passed a new resolution to change the state flag and remove the Confederate emblem, with Gov. Tate Reeves also issuing a statement saying he would sign the bill.
The resolution now goes to the state senate.
Rogelio V. Solis/ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Mississippi House voted 85-34 on the proposal, clearing the 82 votes required for it to pass.
It will now go to the state senate for a vote with immediate release, meaning they can take it up whenever they want.
If passed in the Senate and approved by the governor, the bill will create a new commission to redesign Mississippi’s flag by September 14, 2020, with a state-wide special election to follow on November 3, 2020.
While the new design will not include the Confederate battle flag, one stipulation is that it must have the words “In God We Trust.”
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, also said for the first time on Saturday that he would sign a bill to change the state’s flag if it landed on his desk.
“The legislature has been deadlocked for days as it considers a new state flag,” Reeves said in a statement on Saturday. “The argument over the 1894 flag has become as divisive as the flag itself and it’s time to end it. If they send me a bill this weekend, I will sign it.”
“The eyes of the state, the nation and indeed the world are on us and what we do today,” said House Speaker Pro Tem Jason White, who presented the resolution to the floor. “Whether we like it or not the confederate emblem on our state flag is viewed by many as a symbol of hate. There is no getting around that fact.”
The Mississippi state flag has been controversial for years, but pressure to change the flag has reached new heights in recent months. There are growing calls from protests following the death of George Floyd for the removal of Confederate symbols, with forces both inside and outside of Mississippi now pushing hard to see a change to the flag. The national reckoning on race relations resulting from protests after the death of George Floyd have brought the prominence of Confederate symbols publicly displayed in the U.S., and especially in the South, back into the spotlight—renewing calls for their removal. Like much Confederate iconography, the Mississippi state flag was adopted a generation after the Civil War—in 1894—at a time when whites had regained political power across the South and Jim Crow laws were being passed.