On Tuesday, state governor Tate Reeves signed a bill which meant Mississippi would have to have a new flag after 126 years which will not bear the red, white and blue stripes of the Confederacy.
Mississippi’s state legislature passed the bill on Sunday after the debate was caused by Black Lives Matter protests across the country. A new flag will be decided in November.
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In a statement, Gov. Reeves said, “This is not a political moment to me but a solemn occasion to lead our Mississippi family to come together, to be reconciled, and to move on.”
The Republican governor believed the retirement of the flag was an opportunity for “a resilient people defined by our hospitality.” He added, “We are a people of great faith. Now, more than ever, we must lean on that faith, put our divisions behind us, and unite for a greater good.”
But Reeves spared some words for proponents of the flag and Confederacy paraphernalia.
“I know there are people of goodwill who are not happy to see this flag changed. They fear a chain reaction of events erasing our history — a history that is no doubt complicated and imperfect. I understand those concerns and [I] am determined to protect Mississippi from that dangerous outcome.”
Mississippi was one of the most horrific places for black people after the Civil War. It was at the heart of anti-black racism and the state, along with Alabama, were known for their most rigorous segregationist policies.
These days, it is common to see Mississippi dramatized and satirized as America’s bastion of anti-black racism.
Mississippi was the last state in the U.S to ratify the 13th amendment which outlawed slavery in 1995. It was also the last state to submit its ratification to the U.S. archivist in 2013, prompting some historians to say the state only outlawed slavery in 2013.