Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves The state of Mississippi and a Change in its state flag.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed a bill Tuesday abandoning the state’s flag and stripping the Confederate battle flag symbol from it, capping a remarkable turnaround on a banner that had flown over the state for more than a century.
According to The Washington Post; Mississippi will take down one of the country’s most prominent Confederate tributes, withdrawing the only state flag that still bears such an emblem. The new flag’s design will be determined later, but lawmakers have barred it from including the most recognizable icon of the Confederacy, which many people associate with racism, slavery and oppression.
Reeves’s signature on the bill came two days after Mississippi lawmakers, facing a nationwide campaign for racial justice, passed the measure removing the state’s flag and calling for a replacement.
Lawmakers had debated the change over the weekend, with supporters of a change saying the flag had become a symbol of hatred. Opponents of jettisoning it said history would be abandoned and called instead for a statewide vote. When lawmakers voted to approve the move, loud applause broke out inside the state Capitol.
In the bill, lawmakers laid out two requirements for the flag’s eventual replacement: It cannot include the Confederate symbol and it must incorporate the phrase “In God We Trust.”
Mississippi’s former flag, adopted in 1894, previously had seemed immovable, surviving previous pushes to abandon it. During a statewide referendum in 2001, voters overwhelmingly chose to preserve it.
Opponents of Mississippi’s flag also began speaking out anew, with calls to remove it coming from a parade of powerful and high profile voices that included college sports powerhouses, religious leaders, historical groups and celebrities.
The Mississippi Historical Society said Confederate imagery had been associated “with various acts of terror and violence that have accompanied some of our nation’s most recent racial injustices.” Music superstar Faith Hill, a Mississippi native, called the flag “a direct symbol of terror for our black brothers and sisters,” while the Mississippi Baptist Convention called for a flag that “promotes unity rather than division.”
College sports also took aim at the flag. The NCAA said it would not allow any championship events to be played in states where the Confederate battle flag “has a prominent presence,” a policy the association acknowledged affected only Mississippi.
The Southeastern Conference, where the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University both play, also said it would not allow any conference championship games to be hosted in the state. Leaders from both schools chimed in to say they backed changing the flag.
After the legislature voted to take down the flag, the NCAA and the SEC both praised the decision, which they said would allow the state to host the championship games again.
Opponents of changing the flag had decried the move and said they felt the decision should be left up to residents. The Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans posted a statement telling lawmakers not to embark upon “some Legislative fiat, instead of allowing us to decide what our flag will be.”
State Senator Chris McDaniel (R), who opposed altering the flag, said the legislature’s action came amid a “heavy handed context of political correctness” in a video statement posted on Facebook.
“The people of this state are incredibly frustrated,” he said in the message. “They should be incredibly frustrated. Not necessarily because the flag came down, but because the way the flag came down. It came down in a manner, in a method and in a time that was completely wrongheaded.”
But arguments that the decision should have been left to voters run counter to how the flag was established in the first place, said Charles K. Ross, a history professor at the University of Mississippi.
“In 1894, the citizens of Mississippi didn’t have a choice,” Ross said. “The legislature arbitrarily put this flag up to represent and be the representative image of the entire state, when African Americans weren’t even allowed to participate in the political process . . . they made that unilateral decision in 1894, they had the responsibility of making it again in 2020.”