Mississippi lawmakers to file bill on changing the state flag, vote expected Sunday

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A Mississippi state flag flies outside the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., Thursday, June 25, 2020. Athletic coaches and their staffs from the state’s public universities held a joint news conference and called for a change in the Mississippi state flag. Additionally several head coaches met with both the lieutenant governor and Speaker Philip Gunn, as well as their lawmakers, to lobby for the change. The current flag has in the canton portion of the banner the design of the Civil War-era Confederate battle flag, that has been the center of a long-simmering debate about its removal or replacement. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Lawmakers in Mississippi came to a historic vote on Saturday in regards to the state’s controversial flag.

Both the Mississippi House of Representatives and Mississippi Senate voted to file a bill to remove the Confederate emblem from the flag.

The flag and symbol have been under criticism as people across the country take to the streets to protest racial injustice.

House lawmakers were the first to vote on the matter.

The flag bill passed with a two-thirds majority vote of 85 yeas and 34 nays to advance the bill.

Senators soon followed in suit on Saturday evening with a majority approval of 36-14. The flag bill needed two-thirds to pass in the senate.

According to the Associated Press, Governor Tate Reeves said he would sign a bill if lawmakers sent him one and he would not veto it.

WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP?

This does not mean the state flag will be changing immediately. Lawmakers will have to revisit the bill to officially vote on it.

WREG’s sister station in Jackson, Mississippi reports the vote on the bill will happen Sunday.

The resolution drafted by the House Rules Committee says a commission will be formed to establish a flag that does not include the Confederate emblem.

The commission will be responsible for developing new ideas. One replacement design that will be included on the ballot is the phrase “In God We Trust.”

Mississippians will have the opportunity to vote on the final state flag design in November 2020.

WHAT ABOUT THE STENNIS FLAG?

Early last week, Governor Tate Reeves said no to a plan that called for two state flags.

Reeves said that the plan was divisive and that Mississippi already had one flag.

A flag created by Laurin Stennis, the granddaughter of the late U.S. Senator John C. Stennis, has been gaining traction across the Hospitality State.

John C. Stennis was a segregationist must of his 41 year career.

However, Stennis has since changed the name of the flag to the ‘Hospitality Flag’ and addressed that she knew what harm the name could bring to some people.

HISTORY OF THE STATE FLAG

The emblem was originally put on the state flag by white supremacists within the state legislature in 1894.

It was to retaliate against the political power African Americans gained after the Civil War.

In 2000, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled the flag lacked official status. State laws were updated in 1906, and portions dealing with the flag were not carried forward.

Legislators set a flag election in 2001 and voters kept the rebel-themed design.

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