The Mississippi state legislature voted over the weekend to alter the state’s flag by removing the section styled after the Confederate battle flag.
Both the state House (91-23) and Senate (37-14) voted to nix the emblem, which has been emblazoned on the Mississippi state flag since 1894, while creating a commission to come up with ideas for a new flag, to be decided on by voters, by mid-September. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves has already said he plans to sign the legislation once it reaches his desk.
The flag is the last state flag to include the iconic emblem, representing the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, in its design. In the past, Mississippi residents have voted overwhelming in favor of keeping the flag's current design, voting by a two-thirds majority in a 2001 ballot measure to keep the flag intact.
The move comes as many segments of society – from city and state officials to country bands to syrup companies to real estate associations – have tried, sometimes in awkwardly far-reaching ways, to cut ties with any connection to racism and slavery. As protesters have defaced and toppled Confederate statues (and other statues that had nothing to do with the Civil War, as well as statues of anti-slavery advocates who fought for the Union), city and state governments have pledged to remove statues of Confederate leaders, citing an attempt to “heal” the racial divide.