Mississippi works to formalize new flag without rebel icon

Mississippi is a short step from formally adopting a new state flag with a magnolia and the phrase “In God We Trust."

Posted: Jan 5, 2021 3:41 PM
Updated: Jan 11, 2021 3:54 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi is a short step from formally adopting a new state flag with a magnolia and the phrase “In God We Trust" to replace a Confederate-themed flag legislators mothballed six months ago.

Voters approved the new flag in November after a commission recommended the design. Legislators must put a description of the new flag into state law.

House members voted 119-1 to do that Tuesday, moments after the 2021 legislative session started. The only “no” vote came from Republican Rep. Steve Horne of Meridian. He was among the 23 House members who voted against retiring the old flag last year.

Senators are scheduled to finish passing the bill for the new flag Wednesday, and Republican Gov. Tate Reeves is expected to sign it into law.

“This new flag boldly declares our trust in God, as a state,” Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn said Tuesday. “As we enter into a new year, a new session, may God bless our efforts and may God bless the state of Mississippi as we set sail under this new flag.”

Mississippi legislators voted in late June to get rid of the last state flag in the U.S. that included the Confederate battle emblem — a red field with a blue X topped by 13 white stars. Mississippi had used the same flag since 1894, and critics have said for generations that the banner was a racist symbol that failed to represent a state with the largest percentage of Black residents in the nation.

Democratic Rep. Robert Johnson of Natchez, who is Black, was among the leaders who worked to retire the Confederate-themed flag. He said Tuesday that the new flag represents a better future.

“It's an indication that as a Legislature and state, we can find a way to come together to meet the needs of all of the people of the state of Mississippi," Johnson said.

The 174-member Mississippi Legislature met Tuesday for the first time since the fall. The 2020 session was extended several times as lawmakers worked to distribute federal money to state agencies fighting the coronavirus pandemic. A big topic this year will be how to continue responding to the pandemic as case numbers and hospitalizations continue to rise.

Dozens of Mississippi legislators, including Gunn and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, tested positive for the coronavirus during the summer shortly after the push to change the flag — an effort that attracted hundreds of people to the Capitol.

Hosemann said last week that he thinks the Legislature should delay handling most business until March and only handle a few pressing matters this week. Gunn has disagreed, saying legislators need to press ahead with their work. The session is scheduled to end April 4.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 307332

Reported Deaths: 7095
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20757248
Hinds19869408
Harrison17475302
Rankin13307275
Jackson13095243
Madison9886210
Lee9854169
Jones8289160
Forrest7522146
Lauderdale7185237
Lowndes6261144
Lamar610284
Lafayette6026117
Washington5279132
Bolivar4769129
Oktibbeha455297
Panola4440103
Pearl River4418139
Warren4277118
Marshall4267100
Pontotoc416472
Monroe4056132
Union403575
Neshoba3984176
Lincoln3869107
Hancock371985
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329389
Tate322681
Pike3177104
Scott310472
Yazoo304268
Alcorn297664
Itawamba296776
Copiah292965
Coahoma289677
Simpson287484
Tippah284668
Prentiss275659
Marion265679
Wayne261341
Leake260973
Grenada254882
Covington254380
Adams245882
Newton244859
George237647
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213273
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186471
Clay182354
Stone179131
Clarke176676
Tallahatchie175240
Calhoun163130
Yalobusha158636
Smith158534
Walthall130543
Greene129433
Lawrence126223
Noxubee125833
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120826
Amite119941
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105332
Tunica102525
Claiborne101330
Benton97225
Kemper95126
Humphreys94332
Franklin81723
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 518588

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson753351487
Mobile37698798
Madison33829494
Tuscaloosa25245443
Montgomery23942565
Shelby23094238
Baldwin20617300
Lee15510165
Calhoun14277311
Morgan14137268
Etowah13660345
Marshall11952219
Houston10379278
Elmore9988200
Limestone9806147
Cullman9467188
St. Clair9422234
Lauderdale9208227
DeKalb8745181
Talladega8042171
Walker7087275
Jackson6753110
Autauga6715103
Blount6480135
Colbert6200130
Coffee5397112
Dale4766110
Russell428238
Franklin419882
Chilton4080109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3892146
Escambia387574
Dallas3526149
Chambers3499122
Clarke346360
Marion3065100
Pike305475
Lawrence295295
Winston272272
Bibb256258
Marengo248561
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224755
Hale218675
Butler212266
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176741
Monroe171240
Washington163838
Macon154348
Clay149354
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146041
Lamar139234
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99228
Greene90734
Choctaw58624
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