STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Mississippi lawmakers pushing to remove Confederate emblem from state flag

A bipartisan group of Mississippi state lawmakers want to remove the emblem of the Confederate battle flag from the Mississippi state flag and appear to have...

Posted: Jun 12, 2020 11:37 AM
Updated: Jun 12, 2020 11:40 AM

A bipartisan group of Mississippi state lawmakers want to remove the emblem of the Confederate battle flag from the Mississippi state flag and appear to have support from at least one powerful Republican lawmaker.

The push from state lawmakers was approved by Republican Speaker of the Mississippi House Philip Gunn during a closed-door meeting, state Rep. Robert Johnson told CNN.

"Everybody is on board with getting rid of the messages of segregation, and the old South, and the Civil War, except Mississippi," said Johnson, a Democrat.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are in the process of wrangling votes for a resolution to allow changes to be made to the flag. All 45 Democratic members of the Mississippi House have signaled they will support that resolution. However, bipartisan support is needed to reach the necessary two-thirds majority.

The move comes following renewed efforts nationwide to remove memorials to the Confederacy as the nation grapples with the intertwined legacies of institutionalized racism and police brutality. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced he would remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, but a judge has since blocked its removal. NASCAR declared Wednesday it is banning the Confederate flag at its races, and the US Navy and Marines have also moved to ban the Confederate battle flag from public display.

In protests throughout the country, statues of Confederate leaders and monuments to the Confederacy have been destroyed or defaced in recent days. Statues of Christopher Columbus have also been destroyed and defaced for his treatment of the Indigenous communities he encountered and for his role in the violent colonization at their expense.

President Donald Trump has been steadfast in his desire to see statues of Confederate leaders remain standing and on Wednesday used Twitter to oppose a push to remove Confederate commanders' names from American military bases.

The fight over the Confederate battle flag being included in the Mississippi state flag is not a new one.

Mississippi's flag has included the Confederate emblem -- a blue cross with 13 stars over a red background -- since 1894. Critics of the state flag say it's racist, while others believe it's a crucial part of the state's history. The last time the state considered changing the flag was in 2001. However, 65% of voters chose then to keep the flag with the Confederate symbol instead of switching to a flag with 20 white stars on a blue field to represent Mississippi's status as the 20th state.

Several cities and public universities, including the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University, have ceased to fly the controversial state flag.

Mississippi state Rep. Christopher Bell, a Democrat who is spearheading the latest efforts to change the flag, said that he and Republican state Rep. Missy McGee formulated the idea together.

"It was basically (us) walking by each other in the hallway and we had started up the conversation, and we got to work in trying to form a small bipartisan group of folks to try to do a special resolution to change this flag," Bell said. CNN has reached out to Gunn and McGee for comment.

Johnson thinks that economic and social pressures have spurred Republicans lawmakers in this latest effort.

"I think they began to be embarrassed by it. It's affecting our economy," he added. "I think people are reticent about doing business with a state that continues to fly that flag."

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, told reporters Wednesday he would not support state lawmakers deciding to change the flag. He instead wants the people of Mississippi to have the final say.

"I believe that some point people will want to change the flag, but it should be done by a vote of the people, not by a vote of politicians doing a backroom deal in Jackson," Reeves said, referring to the state's capital city.

He added, "I believe that if we're going to have real change in our state, we've got to deal with the issue of the flag in such a way in which all Mississippians can come together at the end, rally around one another with whatever decision is made and work together to make a better Mississippi."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 252475

Reported Deaths: 5521
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17120175
Hinds16207322
Harrison13353193
Rankin10689211
Jackson10303183
Lee8796141
Madison8232162
Jones6288110
Forrest5949119
Lauderdale5847180
Lowndes5355116
Lafayette494292
Lamar484165
Washington4777123
Bolivar3966108
Oktibbeha392480
Panola368378
Pontotoc362853
Monroe3533105
Warren348498
Union343060
Marshall341665
Neshoba3370152
Pearl River327899
Leflore3002105
Lincoln297085
Sunflower282669
Tate270862
Hancock266559
Alcorn263253
Itawamba262459
Pike262077
Scott246245
Prentiss245052
Yazoo244355
Copiah240849
Tippah240450
Simpson234867
Leake230564
Coahoma230054
Grenada217770
Covington211371
Marion210672
Adams204670
Winston200164
Wayne199630
George199038
Attala193559
Newton191342
Tishomingo184459
Chickasaw183644
Jasper169735
Holmes168567
Clay159033
Stone142320
Tallahatchie140134
Clarke138660
Calhoun135721
Smith120123
Yalobusha116534
Walthall111836
Noxubee110322
Greene109729
Montgomery109434
Carroll104221
Lawrence102417
Perry101631
Amite97725
Webster92224
Tunica86321
Claiborne86125
Jefferson Davis84125
Humphreys82924
Benton81523
Kemper77120
Quitman6888
Franklin66415
Choctaw60313
Wilkinson58325
Jefferson53819
Sharkey42717
Issaquena1596
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 422598

Reported Deaths: 6120
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson62039921
Mobile30225548
Madison27052186
Tuscaloosa20728267
Montgomery18978305
Shelby18504114
Baldwin16251182
Lee12465101
Morgan12233113
Etowah11735168
Calhoun11122200
Marshall10191107
Houston8598148
Cullman8023105
Limestone800274
Elmore7836101
DeKalb768397
Lauderdale754683
St. Clair7535120
Talladega6166108
Walker5897174
Jackson580341
Colbert532073
Blount530483
Autauga518455
Coffee441056
Dale396181
Franklin366248
Chilton336165
Russell330310
Covington327268
Escambia316842
Dallas303196
Chambers282769
Clarke281433
Tallapoosa2616107
Pike248729
Marion245650
Lawrence243647
Winston226635
Bibb215147
Geneva201435
Marengo199029
Pickens196531
Hale175842
Barbour172936
Butler169658
Fayette168226
Cherokee160330
Henry153621
Monroe145217
Randolph139835
Washington137626
Clay126145
Crenshaw118744
Lamar118019
Cleburne117423
Macon114735
Lowndes110335
Wilcox103121
Bullock99028
Perry97419
Conecuh94420
Sumter89026
Greene76023
Coosa60515
Choctaw51224
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
35° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 31°
Columbus
Clear
32° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 32°
Oxford
Clear
28° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 28°
Starkville
Clear
32° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 32°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather