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: 270476

Reported Deaths: 5945
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto18020198
Hinds17192342
Harrison14654214
Rankin11404225
Jackson11146194
Lee9160149
Madison8736173
Jones6934120
Forrest6324126
Lauderdale6212198
Lowndes5623124
Lafayette5295102
Lamar515565
Washington4984125
Bolivar4187111
Oktibbeha413686
Panola390784
Pontotoc383461
Warren3766103
Monroe3746112
Marshall362273
Union361966
Pearl River3578107
Neshoba3528160
Leflore3148110
Lincoln311489
Hancock304263
Sunflower296079
Tate282964
Alcorn276257
Pike275985
Itawamba272665
Scott268055
Yazoo259956
Prentiss257255
Copiah254649
Coahoma253656
Tippah252652
Simpson246072
Leake239367
Marion230774
Covington226173
Grenada225874
Wayne219337
Adams218172
George211041
Winston208971
Newton202748
Attala198265
Tishomingo197861
Chickasaw191546
Jasper185839
Holmes173268
Clay169538
Tallahatchie158835
Stone154727
Clarke151062
Calhoun143122
Smith134226
Yalobusha125435
Walthall116638
Greene115930
Noxubee114726
Montgomery113136
Lawrence109317
Carroll107722
Perry106431
Amite103829
Webster99024
Claiborne90426
Jefferson Davis90231
Tunica89722
Benton87423
Humphreys86225
Kemper81820
Quitman71611
Franklin71517
Choctaw64914
Wilkinson60325
Jefferson57521
Sharkey45917
Issaquena1616
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 449086

Reported Deaths: 7172
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson656061094
Mobile32260595
Madison28795237
Tuscaloosa21859277
Montgomery20388348
Shelby19707139
Baldwin17629217
Lee13482112
Morgan12795154
Etowah12265213
Calhoun11730228
Marshall10543133
Houston9221182
Limestone849485
Cullman8412143
Elmore8379123
Lauderdale8049121
DeKalb7985122
St. Clair7985144
Talladega6637114
Jackson611557
Walker6078185
Colbert5650104
Blount556895
Autauga549967
Coffee473471
Dale418692
Franklin380153
Russell364216
Chilton351379
Covington347986
Escambia343446
Tallapoosa3228111
Dallas3164105
Chambers313775
Clarke311139
Pike269435
Lawrence259759
Marion256667
Winston236443
Bibb226151
Geneva217151
Marengo213332
Pickens203031
Barbour189840
Hale189748
Fayette183534
Butler176660
Cherokee167333
Henry162229
Monroe154221
Randolph149536
Washington144727
Clay131650
Crenshaw127048
Macon124638
Cleburne124128
Lamar122024
Lowndes118637
Wilcox110022
Bullock107429
Perry100819
Conecuh99123
Sumter91228
Greene78624
Coosa66119
Choctaw52424
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
38° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 30°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 34°
Oxford
Partly Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 28°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 32°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather