Mississippi to Choose New State Flag After Vote to Remove Confederate Symbol

June 28, 2020 Updated: June 30, 2020

Mississippi’s House and Senate passed a measure that will remove the Confederate symbol from the state’s flag, sending the historic bill to Gov. Tate Reeves’s desk.

Reeves has said he would sign legislation to change the flag’s insignia.

The legislation cleared the House on Sunday 91–23 and also the Senate with a 37–14 vote. The push to change the flag again came after widespread Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

The flag was adopted in 1894, and it has red, white, and blue stripes with the Confederate symbol at the top left. The new design will include the phrase “In God, We Trust.”

Mississippi state voters will cast their ballot to choose a new state design in November. The design cannot include the Confederate symbol.

“We should not be under any illusion that a vote in the Capitol is the end of what must be done … the job before is us to bring the state together and I intend to work night and day to do it,” Reeves, a Republican, said Saturday.

“I would guess a lot of you don’t even see that flag in the corner right there,” noted Mississippi state Representative Ed Blackmon, who is Black, on Saturday. “There are some of us who notice it every time we walk in here, and it’s not a good feeling.”

Robert E. Lee Monument (1)
People gather at the Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond, Va., on June 18, 2020. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Jefferson Davis’ great-great-grandson, Bertram Hayes-Davis, said the state’s flag should be changed, explaining that the “battle flag has been hijacked” and doesn’t “represent the entire population of Mississippi.”

“It is historic and heritage-related, there are a lot of people who look at it that way, and God bless them for that heritage. So put it in a museum and honor it there or put it in your house, but the flag of Mississippi should represent the entire population, and I am thrilled that we’re finally going to make that change,” Hayes-Davis told CNN.

In the wake of Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter protests and riots, many symbols of the Confederacy have been removed, including a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee at Richmond’s Monument Avenue. NASCAR also said it would prohibit the flags from being displayed at races and events.

In 2000, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that the flag lacked official status. State laws were updated in 1906, and portions dealing with the flag were not carried forward. Legislators set a flag election in 2001, and voters kept the rebel-themed design.

Reeves and many other politicians have said people should get to vote on a flag design in another statewide election.

People wanting to keep the Confederate-themed flag could gather more than 100,000 signatures to put that design up for statewide election. It’s too late to get it on the ballot this November, though, because of timelines set in state law.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.