Mississippi House passes bill to take Confederate symbol off state flag

Mississippi made history this weekend after lawmakers voted to change the state flag, which is the last one displaying a Confederate battle emblem.

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The Hill reports Mississippi’s state House of Representative on Sunday passed a bill to remove the Confederate flag from the state flag, with the Senate expected to pass the measure later today.

The lower chamber voted 91-23 to remove the symbol from the flag, which has flown since 1894. It was the nation’s last state flag containing the symbol. The legislation, written by House Speaker Philip Gunn (R), calls for the current flag to be immediately removed, after which a nine-person commission would be appointed to design a new one, Mississippi Today reported.

Under the terms of the bill, the commission would recommend a new flag design by mid-September, with Mississippi voters okaying or vetoing the design on Nov. 3, the publication reported.

Gov. Tate Reeves (R) has said he will sign any flag bill that reaches his desk. The bill is subject to change before final Senate passage, but under the terms of the bill, Reeves, Gunn and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann would each appoint three people to the commission, according to the publication.

While Reeves’s appointees must represent the state’s Economic Council, Arts Commission and Department of Archives and History, Gunn’s and Hosemann’s appointees are not subject to any such specific requirements, according to Mississippi Today.

State officials have long resisted changing the flag’s design, but the nationwide protests over racism and police brutality since the May 25 death of George Floy d in Minneapolis have given the efforts new momentum, and follow NASCAR banning use of the Confederate flag as well as bipartisan Senate support for a proposal to rename military bases named after Confederate officers.

The 2015 murder of nine Black churchgoers by white supremacist Dylann Roof in Charleston, S.C., prompted similar moves in the Palmetto State, with the state capitol removing its Confederate flag in the wake of the shooting.