Until this week, the Mississippi state flag was the last of the 50 to prominently feature the Confederate flag, which some see as racist.
The Mississippi state flag is about to undergo a major change. The state’s lawmakers approved a bill to officially retire the flag.
It’s not the first time the state felt pressure to remove the Confederate symbol from its flag. Nearly 20 years ago, voters decided to keep the design as is.
But then George Floyd had a fatal encounter with Minneapolis police. Since then, a mounting number of protests put new attention on racist symbols. No matter how much you may wish to argue that the Confederate flag is about “heritage, not hate,” some racist groups have adopted that very flag as a sign of white supremacy.
A month of protests may have accomplished what decades of arguments could not.
Gov. Tate Reeves planned to sign a bill Tuesday evening to retire the flag.
We don’t yet know what the new design will look like. A commission will come up with possibilities. Voters will then make the final decision in November.
Only two things about the new flag are certain. First. it won’t feature Confederate imagery. And second, it will feature the phrase, “In God We Trust.”
I suppose lawmakers figured if they have to appease one group with subtracting something from the flag, they’ll aggravate another by adding something else.
States nationwide are dealing with protests from people who want Confederate monuments taken down. In my home base of Charleston, a statue to John C. Calhoun was just removed from a downtown park. Though Calhoun died more than a decade before the Civil War began, he was a proponent of slavery.
The “heritage” argument won’t go away even as more Confederate symbols eventually disappear.
But the Confederacy is not a valid government and hasn’t been for 155 years. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to finally place such relics in a museum where people can choose to visit them rather than in public places where people have no choice but to see them.
If it’s really about heritage, a museum seems to be the perfect place to honor that heritage, doesn’t it?