Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed a bill on Tuesday retiring the state’s flag — the last one in the U.S. to feature a Confederate battle emblem.
“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,” he said in a statement. “We are a resilient people defined by our hospitality. We are a people of great faith. Now, more than ever, we must lean on that faith, put our divisions behind us, and unite us for a greater good.”
The flag was adopted in 1894, and for years, there have been calls from Black leaders and activists to change it. With renewed interest in the matter due to the anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, the Mississippi state House and Senate passed legislation on Sunday to retire the flag.
Reeves had refused to take a position on the flag, The Associated Press reports, only saying it’s up to voters to decide whether or not to adopt a new one. A commission will now work on creating a new flag, with the design going before voters in November. Under the bill, this flag can’t have any Confederate emblems, but must include the words “In God We Trust.”
“We are all Mississippians and we must all come together,” Reeves said. “What better way to do that than include ‘In God We Trust’ on our new state banner. The people of Mississippi, Black and white, and young and old, can be proud of a banner that puts our faith front and center. We can unite under it. We can move forward — together.” Catherine Garcia