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.

Confirmed Cases: 34622

Reported Deaths: 1215
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds282449
DeSoto186519
Madison141936
Jones118549
Harrison109615
Rankin106315
Neshoba103976
Forrest97243
Lauderdale95481
Scott80915
Jackson74418
Washington70010
Copiah64215
Leake62120
Lee60022
Oktibbeha58928
Holmes57941
Warren57720
Grenada5698
Wayne56018
Yazoo5486
Lowndes53613
Leflore52856
Lamar5227
Lincoln51935
Pike48820
Sunflower4708
Lafayette4644
Monroe43935
Panola4326
Covington4295
Bolivar39418
Simpson3843
Attala38324
Newton36710
Adams34719
Pontotoc3396
Tate33313
Marion32412
Claiborne30011
Winston29611
Chickasaw29319
Pearl River28132
Noxubee2778
Marshall2763
Jasper2716
Clay25611
Walthall2497
Union24611
Smith23712
Coahoma2196
Clarke21725
Lawrence2022
Yalobusha2028
Kemper18314
Tallahatchie1784
Carroll17411
Humphreys16110
Calhoun1605
Montgomery1513
Itawamba1458
Tippah14411
Hancock14113
Webster13411
Jefferson1223
Tunica1213
Jefferson Davis1184
Prentiss1173
George1123
Greene11210
Amite1083
Quitman971
Tishomingo971
Wilkinson969
Alcorn942
Perry794
Choctaw754
Stone732
Franklin542
Sharkey470
Benton440
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 49892

Reported Deaths: 1077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6219167
Mobile4625138
Montgomery4397111
Tuscaloosa258652
Madison19839
Marshall190411
Shelby155724
Lee153537
Morgan12415
Baldwin117011
Walker105631
Elmore100721
Dallas9789
Franklin92816
Etowah91914
DeKalb8647
Russell6650
Chambers66427
Autauga66214
Butler64529
Tallapoosa62569
Unassigned61627
Limestone5963
Houston5616
Lauderdale5556
Cullman5546
St. Clair4842
Colbert4816
Lowndes48022
Escambia4688
Pike4675
Calhoun4565
Coffee4164
Covington40312
Jackson4022
Barbour3772
Bullock37610
Dale3721
Talladega3677
Hale34323
Marengo34211
Clarke3036
Wilcox2998
Chilton2952
Winston2925
Sumter28713
Blount2811
Marion26714
Pickens2626
Monroe2553
Randolph2489
Conecuh2278
Perry2242
Bibb2151
Macon2129
Choctaw20912
Greene1929
Henry1463
Washington1367
Crenshaw1263
Lawrence1210
Cherokee1157
Geneva950
Lamar871
Clay822
Fayette811
Coosa631
Cleburne421
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