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Wednesday Jul 01 2020
By
Reuters

US state Mississippi’s governor signs bill removing Confederate symbol from flag

By
Reuters
The Mississippi state flag, which incorporates the Confederate battle flag, hangs with other state flags in the subway system under the US Capitol in Washington, US. Photo: AFP

The governor of US state Mississippi on Tuesday signed a bill removing the Confederate symbol from the state's flag as the country tries to dismantle symbols of slavery and racism

The removal of the flag, a long-simmering source of controversy in one of the breakaway Southern states that fought in the 1860’s American Civil War, follows the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed while in police custody in Minnesota.

His death has sparked nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality, and revived demands for the removal of statues of Confederate leaders, Christopher Columbus and others considered symbols of racism and colonial oppression.

“I understand the need to commit the 1894 flag to history and find a banner that is a better emblem for all Mississippi,” Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said in a televised address. “We must understand that all who want change are not attempting to erase history.”

The measure the Mississippi’s first-term Republican governor signed also created a commission to design a new state flag. Voters will have the opportunity to approve the design in November, according to a statement from Reeves’ office.

The state flag, which prominently features the so-called Confederate battle flag, had flown above the state Capitol building in Jackson for 126 years. It was taken down this weekend after state lawmakers approved the bill, according to local media.

In the 19th century, Southern states, faced with the prospect of having to give up slavery, formed the Confederacy and broke away from the United States, leading to the 1861-1865 Civil War.

Symbols of the failed rebellion were erected throughout the South during the years of racial segregation and violence known as the Jim Crow era. Despite years of progress and civil rights for Black Americans, many states resisted removing them.