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Mississippi Governor Signs Bill To Remove State Flag With Confederate Symbol

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Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill to remove the state flag that carried the Confederate battle flag, a symbol of racism for many. Mississippi was the last U.S. state to feature the Confederate battle emblem in the flag.

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 bill to remove the emblem was passed by the Mississippi state legislature over the weekend. The state has now appointed a commission to develop a new flag design that must include the phrase "In God, We Trust." The voters in the state will vote on the new design in a November election.

The decision comes amid the increasing efforts to remove memorials and symbols related to the Confederacy, following protests against racism and police brutality that arose after the killing of African-American George Floyd in police custody.

In Mississippi, there has been efforts for long to remove the Confederate emblem from its flag that has flown over the state since 1894. The flag has red, white and blue stripes with the Confederate battle emblem in one corner.

In a statewide election in 2001, Mississippi voters had chosen to keep the flag, calling it a symbol of Southern heritage. However, the state's public universities and many cities have already abandoned it.

The city of Gulfport in the state recently passed a resolution, urging the Mississippi Legislature to respectfully retire the flag, acknowledging that for many it is "a painful reminder of past days of transgressions in this State and has also been used by some as an image of hatred, divisiveness, and violence."

Among the ongoing protests against Confederacy, retail giant Walmart Inc. last week stopped displaying the Mississippi state flag from outside its around 85 stores in the state. Generally, the company displays the local state flag in its US stores. The move was said to be in line with Walmart's 2015 decision to ban the sale of Confederate flag merchandise.

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