Mississippi governor to sign bill removing Confederate emblem from state flag

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves is set to sign a bill Tuesday evening to remove the Confederate emblem from the official Mississippi state flag, the only remaining state flag to feature the Confederate insignia.

The Mississippi state Legislature in a historic move on Sunday passed a bill to retire the current flag and create a commission to design a new one to be voted on in the fall. Reeves, who had previously signaled he would approve the measure, is scheduled to sign the bill removing the flag’s official status at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday, according to his office.

Mississippi lawmakers weighed a change to their flag for weeks amid ongoing racial justice protests across the country. The flag, first adopted in 1894, has red, white and blue stripes with the Confederate battle emblem in the corner.

The flag of the Confederacy, its symbols and the statues commemorating Confederate leaders have long divided the country. Critics call the flag a symbol that represents the war to uphold slavery, while supporters call it a sign of Southern pride and heritage.

The symbols have increasingly become a rallying call for white supremacists.

In recent weeks, the police killing of George Floyd has spurred the removal — by protesters in some cases and city leaders in others — of contentious statues and Confederate symbols that have upset some residents for decades, if not longer.

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died on May 25 in Minneapolis. While being arrested, Floyd was held down by a White Minneapolis police officer’s knee for more than eight minutes.

The bill tasks the established commission to develop a new flag design without the Confederate emblem that includes the phrase “In God, We Trust.” Mississippi voters will then vote on the new design in November.