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Mississippi governor signs bill removing state flag

Updated - Gov. Tate Reeves signed House Bill 1796 into law Tuesday afternoon, thus removing the longtime state flag which featured a Confederate battle emblem.

Posted: Jun 30, 2020 11:32 AM
Updated: Jun 30, 2020 5:44 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (WTVA) - Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves put pen to paper Tuesday afternoon, officially removing the state’s longtime flag.

He signed House Bill 1796 Tuesday afternoon and addressed his fellow Mississippians. Read his full statement below.


Changing Mississippi's state flag, which features a Confederate battle emblem, has been a heated debate for decades.

During the weekend, state lawmakers voted to remove the state flag, which features a Confederate battle emblem.

RelatedMississippi surrenders Confederate symbol from state flag

Reeves’ signature was the final part of the removal process.

A commission of nine individuals will design a new state flag, and Mississippians will either approve or vote against the new design in November.

If voters approve the new design, the new flag will be adopted.

If voters disapprove of the new design, then the commission will go back to the drawing board and present another design to Mississippians.

The voting process would then repeat until a new state flag is chosen.

Reeves read this speech at 5 p.m. Tuesday:

Tonight, I am signing a law to turn a page in Mississippi—by retiring the flag that we have flown since 1894. This was a hard conversation for Mississippi, but family conversations can often be hard.

Over the last several weeks, I have repeatedly heard it said that we must have change because “the eyes of the nation” were on Mississippi. Frankly, I’m not all that concerned about the eyes of the nation.

I do care, however, about looking in the eyes of every one of my neighbors—and making sure they know that their state recognizes the equal dignity and honor they possess as a child of the South, a child of Mississippi, and yes—as a child of an Almighty God.

The eyes I care about belong to my daughters—Tyler, Emma, and Maddie. And your children and grandchildren. And the eyes of all of our fellow Mississippians.

This is not a political moment to me but a solemn occasion to lead our Mississippi family to come together, to be reconciled, and to move on. We are a resilient people defined by our hospitality. We are a people of great faith. Now, more than ever, we must lean on that faith, put our divisions behind us, and unite for a greater good.

I know there are people of goodwill who are not happy to see this flag change. They fear a chain reaction of events erasing our history—a history that is no doubt complicated and imperfect. I understand those concerns and am determined to protect Mississippi from that dangerous outcome.

It is fashionable in some quarters to say our ancestors were all evil. I reject that notion. I also reject the elitist worldview that these United States are anything but the greatest nation in the history of mankind. I reject the mobs tearing down statues of our history—north and south, union and confederate, founding fathers and veterans. I reject the chaos and lawlessness and I am proud it has not happened in our state.

I also understand the need to commit the 1894 flag to history, and find a banner that is a better emblem For All Mississippi. There is a difference between monuments and flags. A monument acknowledges and honors our past.

A flag is a symbol of our present, of our people, and of our future.
For those reasons, we need a new symbol.

Now I can admit that as young boy growing up in Florence, I couldn’t have understood the pain that some of our neighbors felt when they looked at our flag—a pain that made many feel unwelcome and unwanted.

Today, I hear their hurt. It sounds different that the outrage we see on cable TV in other places. It sounds like Mississippians, our friends and our neighbors, asking to be understood.

I’ve long believed the better path towards reconciliation for our state would be for the people to retire this symbol on their own at the ballot box. And I believe we would have eventually chosen that outcome—a deliberate consensus by a thoughtful people.

I am not a man who likes to change his mind. But through prison riots, Easter tornadoes, a pandemic the likes of which we haven’t seen in over 100 years, and now this flag fight, all in just a few months, I have taken to replacing sleeping with praying.

And I have prayed about this decision without ceasing.

The Lord put Proverbs 3:56 on my heart, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and HE will make your path straight.”

Our economy is on the edge of a cliff. Many lives depend on us cooperating and being careful to protect one another. I concluded our state has too much adversity to survive a bitter fight of brother against brother. We must work to defeat the virus and the recession—and NOT be focused on trying to defeat each other.

So last week, as the legislature deadlocked, the fight intensified, and I looked down the barrel of months of more division—I knew that our path forward was to end this battle now.

There are people on either side of the flag debate who may never understand the other. We as a family must show empathy. We must understand that all who want change are not attempting to erase history. And all who want the status quo are not mean-spirited or hateful.

God tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:13 that the three great virtues are “faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” I believe that all of us have to strive to reflect God’s love for us.

We are all Mississippians and we must all come together. What better way to do that than include “In God We Trust” on our new state banner. As Lt. Governor, I fought to put those words on our state seal. We were attacked, threatened, and ultimately we were sued. I know the same forces will come after us again and I know this is a stronger line to hold.

The people of Mississippi, black and white, and young and old, can be proud of a banner that puts our faith front and center. We can unite under it. We can move forward—together.

Speaker Philip Gunn, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann, dozens of legislators, and a movement of Mississippians led this effort. They were preceded by generations of people who raised consciousness for decades. They deserve the recognition they have earned.

Whether you are proud of this step or angry with us over the process, I want you to know that I love you. I am praying for you.

And I know healing will not happen by a bill or by a politician or by a legislative body. It must be done neighbor to neighbor, brother to brother, and sister to sister, together as a family. Because reconciliation is something that only God can bring!

Less than six months ago, in my inaugural address, I promised my priorities would be defending our loving culture and growing our economy. I promised to be a Governor for ALL Mississippi—and I am confident today’s action promotes both objectives.

We may not always agree. But as members of the Mississippi family, we do know the bonds we all share: God’s grace. Mississippi grit. A foundation in our history, and a hope in our future.

We can move on, and with God’s help, we will!

God Bless you, Mississippi!

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 295295

Reported Deaths: 6724
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19690230
Hinds18812389
Harrison16722280
Rankin12725265
Jackson12603228
Lee9691160
Madison9466203
Jones7978147
Forrest7217138
Lauderdale6836226
Lowndes6031140
Lamar588480
Lafayette5736113
Washington5218130
Bolivar4612123
Oktibbeha441493
Panola430894
Pearl River4174130
Warren4130115
Pontotoc409771
Marshall403392
Monroe3990126
Union395674
Neshoba3817169
Lincoln3544103
Hancock347975
Leflore3376118
Sunflower318986
Tate302974
Pike300796
Scott293970
Alcorn291862
Itawamba290075
Yazoo289963
Tippah278965
Coahoma278668
Copiah278158
Simpson275879
Prentiss269858
Wayne254241
Marion252778
Leake252671
Covington248980
Grenada247578
Adams234678
George231845
Newton229952
Winston221777
Jasper213445
Tishomingo212365
Attala206569
Chickasaw201152
Holmes182370
Clay179251
Stone172429
Tallahatchie170939
Clarke169371
Calhoun157928
Smith152832
Yalobusha144836
Greene127733
Walthall124240
Noxubee122831
Montgomery122639
Perry121734
Lawrence120421
Carroll118425
Amite111734
Webster110631
Jefferson Davis101931
Tunica99023
Claiborne98429
Benton93524
Humphreys92827
Kemper90223
Quitman77214
Franklin76119
Choctaw69617
Jefferson62727
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey48917
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 494421

Reported Deaths: 9991
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson711451374
Mobile36184735
Madison32457458
Tuscaloosa24213412
Montgomery22636517
Shelby22020214
Baldwin19790284
Lee14980154
Morgan13693251
Calhoun13307287
Etowah13192320
Marshall11269209
Houston10102261
Elmore9408185
Limestone9376134
Cullman8903181
St. Clair8839224
Lauderdale8601212
DeKalb8465175
Talladega7552164
Walker6538258
Jackson6503103
Autauga630391
Blount6106127
Colbert5993119
Coffee5254102
Dale4648107
Russell405233
Franklin399478
Covington3970106
Chilton3883100
Escambia378172
Tallapoosa3596143
Clarke343753
Chambers3421111
Dallas3412141
Pike293372
Lawrence283684
Marion283495
Winston247368
Bibb245460
Geneva240270
Marengo236557
Pickens224555
Barbour212451
Hale210668
Fayette200957
Butler197566
Henry182641
Cherokee177139
Monroe166339
Randolph163840
Washington156635
Crenshaw145254
Clay145054
Macon142343
Cleburne137841
Lamar133133
Lowndes131251
Wilcox122525
Bullock117136
Conecuh106724
Perry105827
Sumter98632
Coosa89224
Greene88232
Choctaw55123
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