MS flag to change following pressure from student-athletes and coaches

Mississippi governor signs bill retiring last state flag with Confederate battle emblem

Mississippi Gov. Signs Bill Removing Confederate Symbol from State Flag

The Republican governor of the southern USA state of MS signed a bill Tuesday removing the Confederate battle standard from the state flag, after nationwide protests drew renewed attention to symbols of the United States' racist past. Two years ago, a top Republican in the state House of Representatives proposed a compromise in which MS would have two state flags, one with the Confederate emblem and one without it. "So, I disagree with the process, but it's been done and it's a historic day for the state of MS".

Student-athletes and collegiate coaches have been credited with influencing the MS legislature's decision to change the state's controversial flag.

"I think it's a great day for MS and it opens up a whole new chapter in the life of MS and its people", the lawmaker told WLBT television.

The measure signed by Mississippi's first-term Republican governor also created a commission to design a new state flag. Residents will vote on the proposed design in the November election.

Mississippi governor signs bill retiring last state flag with Confederate battle emblem

Gov. Tate Reeves then signed the historic bill Tuesday at the Governor's Mansion, immediately removing official status for the 126-year-old banner.

First adopted in 1894 by white supremacists reclaimingpower after Reconstruction, the old flag incorporated the Confederate battle emblem - a red background with a blue X lined with 13 white stars. White supremacist legislators put it on the upper-left corner of the MS flag in 1894, as white people were squelching political power that African Americans had gained after the Civil War.

The move capped days of emotional debate and decades of effort by Black lawmakers and others to remove the rebel emblem, arguing it can not represent a state where 38% of the population is Black.

"There is a difference between monuments and flags, a monument acknowledges and honors our past, a flag is a symbol of our present, of our people and of our future", he said.

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The now former MS state flag was removed from the tunnel in the Senate subway Tuesday evening.

Many African Americans believe the flag carries racist connotations, while white southerners argue it is a symbol of Southern heritage. If they reject it, the commission will draft a different design using the same guidelines, to be sent to voters later.

Racial injustice has been the subject of a renewed and fiery national conversation in the United States since the death in May of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer.

The Confederate flag served as a banner for the Confederacy, a collection of southern USA states which seceded from the union in 1860 in a bid to preserve their right to own slaves.

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State Sen. John Horhn said he began to tear up when he saw the flag come down.

He added: "The people of MS, black and white, and young and old, can be proud of a banner that puts our faith front and center. We can move forward together".

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