Mississippi governor signs law for flag without rebel sign

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has signed a bill that gives the state a new flag with a magnolia and the phrase, “In God We Trust.”

Posted: Jan 11, 2021 3:41 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill Monday that gives the state a new flag that no longer carries the Confederate battle emblem.

The bill signing happened just over six months after legislators retired the last state flag in the U.S. that included the rebel symbol.

During a signing ceremony, Reeves said the old flag was “a prominent roadblock to unity.”

The new flag has a magnolia and the phrase, “In God We Trust.” Reeves called it "one small effort to unify, but it is done in good faith.”

Momentum to change the Mississippi flag built quickly in June as protests against racial injustice were happening across the nation. Legislators created a commission to design a new flag, specifying that the banner could not include Confederate imagery and that it must include “In God We Trust.”

The public submitted more than 3,000 proposals, and the commission chose the design that has a magnolia blossom encircled by white stars representing Mississippi as the 20th state, plus a single gold star representing Native Americans. The gold star is made of diamond shapes that are significant to the Choctaw culture. The flag also has gold stripes representing the artistic heritage of state that has produced blues great B.B. King, and Nobel Prize-winning novelist William Faulkner.

The law retiring the old flag also specified that the commission's proposed new flag would go on the Nov. 3 ballot for a yes-or-no vote. The magnolia design was the only flag proposal on the ballot, and more than 71% of people who voted that day said yes.

Putting it into law is the final step in making the magnolia flag an official state symbol. The state House and Senate last week passed the bill that Reeves signed Monday.

The Confederate battle emblem — a red field topped by a blue X with 13 white stars — was put on the upper left corner of the Mississippi flag in 1894 by white supremacists in the state Legislature a generation after the South lost the Civil War. The flag was part of the backlash against political power that Black people had attained during Reconstruction. Critics had long said the flag was a racist symbol that failed to represent a state with the largest percentage of Black residents in the nation.

The Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups have waved the Confederate battle flag for decades. Georgia put the battle emblem prominently on its state flag in 1956, during a backlash to the civil rights movement. That state removed the symbol from its banner in 2001.

Mississippi voters chose to keep the Confederate-themed flag during a 2001 election, but all of the state's public universities and several cities and counties stopped flying it in recent years. Several took it down after the June 2015 slayings of nine Black worshippers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. The white man charged in the shooting deaths had previously posed, in photos published online, holding the Confederate battle flag.

Supporters of the Confederate-themed Mississippi flag are starting an initiative that seeks to put four flag designs on the statewide ballot for another vote — the 1894 flag, the magnolia flag, one designed by a Jackson artist as an alternative to the 1894 flag and one designed for the state's 2017 bicentennial. Getting that on the ballot is a long shot, though, because of the signature-gathering process that is made more challenging by the coronavirus pandemic.

A few dozen people demonstrated on the south steps of the Mississippi Capitol in support of reviving the old flag. Some also carried flags supporting President Donald Trump.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 259117

Reported Deaths: 5668
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17331186
Hinds16373328
Harrison13731199
Rankin10854217
Jackson10557187
Lee8922141
Madison8335166
Jones6483112
Forrest6038120
Lauderdale5965187
Lowndes5425118
Lafayette503193
Lamar490865
Washington4826124
Bolivar4024109
Oktibbeha397681
Panola374680
Pontotoc369855
Monroe3591105
Warren3569100
Union348063
Marshall347769
Neshoba3413152
Pearl River3329103
Leflore3059107
Lincoln299386
Sunflower288271
Hancock282559
Tate274362
Alcorn267454
Itawamba265260
Pike264679
Scott250847
Prentiss248252
Yazoo247356
Tippah244450
Copiah243949
Coahoma242254
Simpson238368
Leake232966
Grenada220671
Covington215072
Marion215073
Adams207870
Wayne203232
Winston202667
George201939
Newton195044
Attala194659
Tishomingo191661
Chickasaw185744
Jasper174438
Holmes169168
Clay161335
Tallahatchie148235
Stone145921
Clarke141762
Calhoun137621
Smith122725
Yalobusha119134
Walthall112836
Noxubee111423
Greene111029
Montgomery110136
Carroll105321
Lawrence103217
Perry102831
Amite98826
Webster93924
Tunica87421
Claiborne86625
Jefferson Davis85827
Benton83323
Humphreys83324
Kemper78420
Quitman6969
Franklin67115
Choctaw61213
Wilkinson58825
Jefferson55419
Sharkey44017
Issaquena1596
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 429655

Reported Deaths: 6283
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63040956
Mobile30794557
Madison27486201
Tuscaloosa20996268
Montgomery19352315
Shelby18833120
Baldwin16653184
Lee12749102
Morgan12389119
Etowah11861176
Calhoun11292201
Marshall10290113
Houston8746156
Limestone813276
Cullman8125106
Elmore7999104
DeKalb776599
Lauderdale768698
St. Clair7651121
Talladega6309108
Walker5954174
Jackson586341
Colbert539873
Blount537683
Autauga525755
Coffee450456
Dale402981
Franklin369948
Russell340711
Chilton338966
Covington332668
Escambia326043
Dallas308896
Chambers293170
Clarke287833
Tallapoosa2641107
Pike255230
Marion248953
Lawrence246649
Winston229535
Bibb218847
Geneva205446
Marengo202829
Pickens197531
Hale179542
Barbour176036
Fayette172928
Butler170858
Cherokee161930
Henry156523
Monroe149818
Randolph142135
Washington139126
Clay127645
Crenshaw121544
Cleburne119023
Lamar119021
Macon118637
Lowndes112036
Wilcox105121
Bullock101128
Perry99019
Conecuh95720
Sumter89626
Greene76623
Coosa61015
Choctaw51624
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