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.

Confirmed Cases: 29684

Reported Deaths: 1103
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds238239
DeSoto148616
Madison126734
Jones110449
Neshoba98171
Lauderdale90079
Rankin88812
Forrest85142
Harrison84210
Scott76215
Copiah59216
Jackson58416
Leake57019
Holmes54441
Wayne53513
Lee53218
Oktibbeha53226
Washington5319
Warren49618
Yazoo4936
Leflore48049
Lowndes47212
Lincoln44334
Lamar4407
Grenada4325
Pike40712
Monroe38830
Lafayette3774
Attala35823
Sunflower3467
Newton3389
Covington3345
Panola3256
Bolivar32114
Adams29318
Simpson2833
Pontotoc2736
Marion27011
Tate2709
Chickasaw26918
Claiborne25610
Jasper2566
Winston2546
Noxubee2538
Pearl River24832
Clay24710
Marshall2173
Smith21611
Clarke20524
Coahoma1916
Union1919
Walthall1804
Kemper17714
Lawrence1701
Yalobusha1677
Carroll16411
Itawamba1348
Humphreys1329
Calhoun1284
Tippah12811
Hancock12613
Webster12610
Montgomery1242
Tallahatchie1224
Jefferson Davis1094
Prentiss1023
Greene1018
Jefferson993
Tunica933
Wilkinson929
Amite892
George783
Tishomingo741
Quitman730
Choctaw724
Perry654
Alcorn631
Stone571
Franklin412
Sharkey340
Benton300
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 41362

Reported Deaths: 983
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4802152
Montgomery3947103
Mobile3904134
Tuscaloosa218842
Marshall168010
Lee130237
Madison12717
Shelby117623
Morgan10475
Walker90524
Franklin87814
Dallas8689
Elmore86414
Baldwin8289
Etowah70713
DeKalb6945
Butler62328
Chambers61227
Tallapoosa58369
Autauga56012
Russell5190
Unassigned50323
Lauderdale4736
Limestone4660
Lowndes46321
Houston4614
Cullman4354
Pike4175
Colbert3836
Coffee3702
Bullock3679
St. Clair3472
Barbour3452
Covington3437
Escambia3326
Calhoun3225
Hale30621
Marengo30011
Talladega3007
Wilcox2898
Sumter28412
Clarke2726
Dale2680
Jackson2632
Winston2463
Monroe2312
Chilton2282
Blount2261
Pickens2226
Marion21413
Randolph2019
Conecuh1977
Choctaw19512
Bibb1861
Greene1838
Macon1819
Perry1621
Henry1313
Crenshaw1253
Lawrence1050
Washington1047
Cherokee857
Geneva780
Lamar751
Fayette671
Clay622
Coosa581
Cleburne361
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