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Mississippi state legislature passes bill to change state flag

Jun 28, 2020, 7:22 PM | Updated: 7:23 pm
Mississippi flag...
387975 02: The Mississippi State flags flies April 17, 2001 in Pascagoula, MS. Voters will decide whether to replace the state's old flag, which sports the Confederate battle cross, with a new flag that would have 20 white stars on a blue square. (Photo by Bill Colgin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bill Colgin/Getty Images)

(CNN) — The Mississippi state legislature — both the House and Senate — passed a bill on Sunday to change the state’s flag in a historic step toward removing the flag’s Confederate battle emblem.

The bill will now go to Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, who has said he would sign legislation that state lawmakers send him to remove the Confederate insignia.

The legislation — which cleared the state House in a 91-23 vote and the state Senate with a 37-14 vote — comes as Mississippi lawmakers in recent weeks have been weighing a change to their flag amid the continued racial justice protests across the country. Mississippi is the last state in the country whose flag features the Confederate emblem. The flag, first adopted in 1894, has red, white and blue stripes with the Confederate battle emblem in the corner.

The bill establishes a commission to develop a new flag design without the Confederate emblem that includes the phrase “In God, We Trust.” Mississippi state voters would then vote on the new design this November.

Reeves, a Republican, said Saturday that if the legislature passed a bill this weekend to remove Confederate imagery from the state flag, he would sign it.

“We should not be under any illusion that a vote in the Capitol is the end of what must be done — the job before is us to bring the state together and I intend to work night and day to do it,” Reeves said Saturday.

Both the Mississippi House and Senate passed a resolution on Saturday to begin the process of changing the flag.

State Rep. Jeramey Anderson, a Democrat from Moss Point, applauded the passage of that resolution by House legislators, saying, “changing the flag is long overdue.”

Anderson also said, “This is a unique opportunity, one we should not squander.”

And following the votes Saturday, Jefferson Davis’ great-great-grandson, Bertram Hayes-Davis, agreed with the potential change of the Mississippi flag, saying that the “battle flag has been hijacked” and “does not represent the entire population of Mississippi.”

“It is historic and heritage-related, there are a lot of people who look at it that way, and God bless them for that heritage. So put it in a museum and honor it there or put it in your house, but the flag of Mississippi should represent the entire population, and I am thrilled that we’re finally going to make that change,” Hayes-Davis told CNN’s Ana Cabrera on “Newsroom” Saturday.

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Mississippi state legislature passes bill to change state flag