More leaders react to Mississippi state flag change


JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – More leaders are expressing their thoughts after the Mississippi Legislature approved a bill to change the state flag, which contains the Confederate battle emblem.

Former Governor William Winter released the following statement:

I’m delighted by this positive move. I’m especially grateful at age 97 to witness this step forward by the state I love.

Of equal importance, I hope this may spark further action to meet the compelling social and economic needs of our state. The battle for a better Mississippi does not end with the removal of the flag and we should work in concert to make other positive changes in the interest of all our people.

William Winter, Former Governor of Mississippi

The chair of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus released the following statement:

On a split vote of 37-14, Sunday, June 28, 2020, we passed House Bill 1796 that mandates removal of Mississippi’s current state flag, formation of a commission to redesign the flag, remove the Confederate emblem and include the words “In God We Trust,” then placing the chosen design before voters to approve in November.

The House passed it on a 91-23 vote.

The commission will be composed of a nine people, three of whom will be appointed by Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann, three by House Speaker Philip Gunn and three appointed by Governor Tate Reeves.

The commission will seek public input and adopt its policy on how the new design will be acquired. The commission will present to the governor and lawmakers their chosen design by mid-September.

As the bill to change the flag moved through the process, we were reminded of the treacherous circumstances that have occurred in Mississippi under the flag of 1894.

Black slaves were beaten, separated from their families, forced to work long hours and live in meager conditions – all at the hands of their owners. Many of these acts were done in the name of God and Christianity. The assassination of the late Mr. Medgar Evers, heroic efforts of Ms. Fannie Lou Hamer, the courageous acts of the Honorable Robert Clark, as well as the sacrifices of many community activists, political leaders and constituents have all played a role in getting Mississippi to this point.

We must acknowledge that as of late the public killing of George Floyd incited protests and demonstrations throughout the world. The statements of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), South Eastern Conference (SEC), Baptist Ministers, college presidents, business community and Kylin Hill, a student athlete from Columbus, Mississippi, all worked in synergy to demand change.

This battle has been fought uphill. The Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus and many others held the line. On June 28, those most concerned about Mississippi’s future won!

District 16 Senator Angela Turner Ford, Chair, Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus

The NCAA released the following statement:

We are pleased the Mississippi legislature has acted swiftly to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag, and we look forward to Governor Reeves signing this bill. It has too long served as a symbol of oppression, racism and injustice. We welcome this important move by state lawmakers to remove the symbol from prominence in the state, which will also open the opportunity to host NCAA championships after the recently expanded championship policy.

Mark Emmert, NCAA President

The Mississippi Economic Council released the following statements:

I commend our legislators on these landmark votes for a new Mississippi. Perceptions of our state will change around the nation and around the world. A new flag will unite us and help us move further toward creating economic prosperity and a brighter future for everyone in our great state.

Anthony Wilson, 2020-2021 MEC Chair / President and CEO of Mississippi Power:

Ensuring a promising future for Mississippi begins with enhancing economic opportunities and improving the quality of life in a fair and inclusive manner for every Mississippian. Today’s decision to remove the state flag is historic, but more importantly, it is a huge step in unifying our citizens and sets Mississippi on a new course toward economic growth for generations to come. MEC thanks Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann and state legislators for their leadership and courage, and we look forward to working with Governor Tate Reeves in bringing our state together so Mississippi can realize her full potential.

Scott Waller, President and CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council

The Mississippi House Democratic Caucus released the following statement:

Yesterday was a historic day in our state. The Mississippi House of Representatives voted 91-23 to remove the current state flag containing the Confederate battle emblem. We are proud of the bipartisan efforts that made the passage of this bill possible.

House Minority Leader Robert L. Johnson, III said, “The state flag represented a history of slavery, persecution, and inequality for many Mississippians. We need a flag for all Mississippians: a flag of unity, a flag that says to the world we are open to progress and looking to the future. With the Confederate flag now removed, we can work together to address the inequities that exist in health, education, and quality of life. Mississippi now has the freedom to move forward.”  

In an interview on MSNBC, House Minority Leader Johnson remarked on the bipartisan efforts that lead to the passage of the bill by saying, “I feel triumphant. I feel like I’m a part of a new beginning… It would not have happened without the help of the Speaker [Gunn]… he said 5 years ago that the flag ought to come down. He didn’t say it because it was popular; he said it because he agreed with me and a lot of other people that it was a step forward for the state of Mississippi. Five years later, we are getting it done.”

The Senate voted 37-14 in favor of changing the state flag during a heavily debated vote yesterday. Governor Reeves has 5 days to sign HB 1796, and he has indicated that he will do so.  

Mississippi House Democratic Caucus


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