Mississippi state lawmakers approved this Sunday the withdrawal of Confederate symbols from its flag. This southern state is the only one that still retains on its banner the emblem that, for African Americans, is the symbol of the racism and slavery that motivated the Civil War (1861-65). The historic decision comes after more than a month of protests against police abuses against black citizens, which led to a series of changes, including in police action protocols. Mississippi Republican Governor Tate Reeves has anticipated that he will support the historic decision and that, once the bill is passed, that state flag will lose its official status after 126 years.
The Mississippi flag has three horizontal bands, in blue, white and red. On the left, occupying the top two thirds, there is a frame with the Confederate flag – 13 white stars arranged over a blue X, over a red field -, a subject of controversy for more than a century. For his detractors, it is one of the favorite emblems of the supremacist group Ku Klux Klan and the southern trauma of slavery and the segregation of African Americans, which was legalized until just over 50 years ago. Pfor those who defend it and proudly show it, the presence of the Confederate symbol is an identity gesture and a historical legacy, regardless of its racial connotation. In 2001, Mississippi – a white majority state – held a referendum on the elimination of the Confederate flag symbol, and the result was favorable to maintenance.
But almost two decades have passed since then. Now you can breathe a different environment. The racial wound is very open. Although African Americans make up less than 40% of Mississippi’s population, 72% of coronavirus deaths are black, according to data from the state health department. In addition, it has been a month since the African American George Floyd he was killed by a white police officer in the middle of the street in broad daylight in Minnesota, a fact that sparked the biggest wave of racial protests since the assassination of Martin Luther King. Since then, in many cities were demolished monuments of characters who defended white supremacy and slavery. Even the Pentagon is discussing the possibility of renaming military bases named after Confederate officers who fought against the Union in the Civil War.
The proposal to remove the Confederacy symbol from the state flag had bipartisan support in Sunday’s vote. In the House of Representatives, 91 deputies voted in favor, and 23 against. In the Senate, the score was 37 x 14. Now, Governor Reeves must endorse the proposal and, when that happens, there will be a period of 15 days for the removal of the flags. “The discussion about the 1894 flag became as controversial as the flag itself“, Noted Reeves in a note,” and it’s time to put an end to this. ” The law passed by the state legislature also proposes the creation of a commission in charge of designing a new pavilion, with the prerequisite that it contains the phrase “In God we trust”, in English. This new design will be put to a vote in November.