Mississippi Legislature makes historic vote on state flag

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JACKSON, Miss. (WCBI)- Mississippi’s flag comes down just moments after the Senate passes a bill to remove the current state flag.

A historic move by the Mississippi Legislature Sunday. The bill paves a new era in our state and is now waiting to be signed by Governor Tate Reeves.

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The state flag has featured the confederate emblem for more than 100 years, but after a decisive vote by both the House and the Senate, that could soon be changing.

Inside the House chamber, it’s the vote to pass a bill adopting a new state flag. A decision that brought tears to Representative Robert Johnson III.

For years he’s been fighting to have the state flag removed.

“I knew we could not continue to operate under the negativity of that flag, I knew we couldn’t do that. I knew that the state couldn’t prosper or exist,” said Rep. Johnson.

Soon afternoon the House made its decision, it was the Senate’s turn.

After a lengthy debate, they also passed that same bill to retire the current flag, which bears a confederate emblem.

“I had no idea that we would be standing at this point today, especially back in January earlier this year,” said Sen. Angela Turner-Ford.

“We want Mississippi to have a heart and a soul, today she had one,” Lt. Governor Delbert Hoseman.

While many state leaders are happy with the way the votes turned out, other lawmakers have different opinions. They believe the people should’ve been in charge of voting to determine whether the state flag is removed.

“From a standpoint of unity, it’s difficult to understand how we can truly find unity when the people weren’t given their voice. You basically told a large percentage of Mississippians than what they did in 2001, their opinions don’t matter,” said Sen. Chris McDaniel.

“I do feel like it may take a little bit of their joy away, and also when you have an election, and when you have a ballot vote, once that vote is done, there’s really no argument, that’s one reason I felt that it would be a good thing for people to be able to vote,” said. Rep. Dana Underwood McLean.

Though they have different opinions on who should’ve made the call, the majority of state lawmakers believe it was time to retire the current state flag

Many lawmakers said this is a step in the right direction. The first step towards a new beginning.

“I want people to understand this change is coming from within our state, this is not the result of outside influences. The hearts of the people in the chamber behind me were changed,” said Speaker of the House Philip Gunn.

“One thing about these proud moments is that no one can share them individually. This is the vote for all Mississippians,” said Rep. Cheikh Taylor.

Governor Tate Reeves could sign the bill as early as Monday. The current flag will then come down within 15 days from the date the governor signs the bill.

Although the public didn’t have the opportunity to weigh in on the removal of the state flag, their voice isn’t silenced.

A nine-person commission will be formed and they’ll come up with a new flag design. The Speaker of the House will name three, Lt. Governor will name three, and Governor Reeves will name three.

The flag can not feature the confederate emblem and it must include the words “In God We Trust..”

The public will have a chance to vote yes or no to that design in November. The design needs a majority vote.

If a majority vote is not reached, the commission will create another design and the public will have another vote on the matter.

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