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: 308737

Reported Deaths: 7139
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20931250
Hinds19961410
Harrison17562303
Rankin13369277
Jackson13156243
Madison9950212
Lee9890170
Jones8310161
Forrest7542148
Lauderdale7221237
Lowndes6289144
Lamar613384
Lafayette6072117
Washington5291133
Bolivar4776129
Oktibbeha457197
Panola4458103
Pearl River4437141
Warren4299119
Marshall4286102
Pontotoc417572
Monroe4062132
Union404675
Neshoba4005176
Lincoln3886109
Hancock373385
Leflore3471124
Sunflower331589
Tate325384
Pike3215105
Scott311472
Yazoo305069
Alcorn299465
Itawamba297877
Copiah293965
Coahoma290479
Simpson289586
Tippah285168
Prentiss276659
Marion266279
Leake261773
Wayne261541
Grenada256484
Covington255280
Adams246982
Newton245761
George238547
Winston226081
Tishomingo222567
Jasper220048
Attala213673
Chickasaw205457
Holmes187172
Clay183254
Stone179733
Clarke177776
Tallahatchie176140
Calhoun165431
Yalobusha160136
Smith159334
Walthall131043
Greene129633
Lawrence126623
Noxubee126534
Montgomery125742
Perry125238
Carroll120926
Amite120741
Webster113832
Jefferson Davis105532
Tunica103225
Claiborne101330
Benton97525
Kemper95628
Humphreys94632
Franklin82923
Quitman78916
Choctaw73917
Wilkinson65128
Jefferson64828
Sharkey49817
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 521623

Reported Deaths: 10739
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754061493
Mobile39067799
Madison34040496
Tuscaloosa25367444
Montgomery24019567
Shelby23186239
Baldwin20701302
Lee15589165
Calhoun14342311
Morgan14158271
Etowah13685346
Marshall11995220
Houston10404278
Elmore10011200
Limestone9852147
Cullman9503189
St. Clair9463234
Lauderdale9265228
DeKalb8757181
Talladega8115171
Walker7139275
Jackson6756110
Autauga6750103
Blount6519134
Colbert6229130
Coffee5424113
Dale4772111
Russell430038
Franklin420782
Chilton4101109
Covington4061114
Tallapoosa3907146
Escambia390174
Dallas3525149
Chambers3514122
Clarke347060
Marion3072100
Pike306176
Lawrence295995
Winston273172
Bibb256059
Marengo248361
Geneva246075
Pickens233259
Barbour226455
Hale218575
Butler212967
Fayette209460
Henry188044
Cherokee182644
Randolph177241
Monroe172540
Washington165238
Macon155648
Clay150155
Crenshaw149457
Cleburne146741
Lamar139734
Lowndes136553
Wilcox124427
Bullock121640
Conecuh109428
Perry107626
Sumter103232
Coosa99428
Greene91434
Choctaw58824
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