The Mississippi state legislature voted on Sunday to remove the emblem of the Confederacy from the state flag.
State residents had previously been resistant to changing the flag, however polling from the state’s Chamber of Commerce indicated that 55 percent of residents now supported removing the Confederate symbol.
“In the nearly 20 years we have held the position of changing the state flag, we have never seen voters so much in favor of change,” Scott Waller, president of the Mississippi Economic Council, said on Thursday. “These recent polling numbers show what people believe, and that the time has come for us to have a new flag that serves as a unifying symbol for our entire state.”
Governor Tate Reeves, a Republican, said he would sign legislation to change the flag after previously expressing ambivalence.
“The argument over the 1894 flag has become as divisive as the flag itself and it’s time to end it. If they send me a bill this weekend, I will sign it,” Reeves wrote on Facebook on Saturday.
“I would guess a lot of you don’t even see that flag in the corner right there,” Mississippi state Representative Ed Blackmon, a Democrat and African American who has served in the legislature continuously since 1983, said on Saturday. “There are some of us who notice it every time we walk in here, and it’s not a good feeling.”
The push to remove the Confederate emblem comes amid massive nationwide demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, an African American man killed during arrest by Minneapolis police officers. Activists have called to remove the symbol of the secessionist states, which broke away from the union to preserve the system of slavery, as well as monuments to Confederate leaders from prominent public spaces. NASCAR has announced that it will ban spectators from waving the Confederate flag at races.