Mississippi votes to remove Confederate symbol from state flag

JACKSON • Lawmakers in Mississippi voted on Sunday to remove the Confederate battle standard from the state flag, after nationwide protests drew renewed attention to symbols of the US’ racist past.

The measure passed with a 91-23 majority vote in the House of Representatives, triggering cheers in the Senate gallery. A few hours later, the Senate voted 37-14 for the bill.

“In the name of history, whether you’re black or white, rich or poor, Democrat or Republican, I ask you today to stand in the name of history,” Democratic Senator Derrick T Simmons urged his colleagues before the vote.

“I ask each of you as we recognise and understand the Mississippi of yesterday; let’s vote today for the Mississippi of tomorrow.” Senators celebrated with cheers, hugs and fist-bumps.

Mississippi is the only Ameri- can state to incorporate the Confederate standard on its official flag, after nearby Georgia dropped it in 2003.

The criss-crossed diagonalstars pattern was used by southern troops, including Mississippians, during the 1861-1865 American Civil War — the bloody conflict that brought an end to slavery — and for many, it remains a symbol of the country’s dark racial legacy.

The bill calls for a nine-member commission to design a new flag that does not use the Confederate standard and does include the phrase “In God, We Trust”.

State residents would vote on the design in November. If they reject the new design, Mississippi will go without a state flag until a new design is approved. — AFP