Mississippi flag: 'In God We Trust' for Confederate symbol?
JACKSON, miss. (AP) - Two of Mississippi's best-elected Republicans on Wednesday proposed replacing the Confederate flag emblem with the words "In God We Trust" to provide a path to unity in their communities, against the backdrop of the national population State to find protests against racial injustice.
"I am personally convinced that it is time for us to change our state flag to reflect the love, compassion and conviction of our people," said Attorney General Lynn Fitch. "Adding" In God We Trust "from our state seal is the perfect way to show everyone who we are."
Mississippi has the only state flag that contains the Confederate Battle emblem - a red field crowned by a blue X with 13 white stars. White supremacists in the legislature chose the design in 1894 as a counter-reaction to the political power that African-Americans gained during the post-civil war reconstruction.
Mississippi voters chose to keep the flag in a 2001 nationwide election, but the design has remained controversial. In other parts of the country, debate has intensified as Confederate monuments and statues commemorating past slavery have been overthrown by demonstrators or deliberately removed by the authorities to combat racial inequalities.
Mississippi Governor Delbert Hosemann said a new flag would help future generations.
"In my opinion, our flag should carry the Mississippi State seal and say" In God We Trust, "" said Hosemann. "I am open to bringing all citizens together to set a banner for our future."
Regardless, the Mississippi Republican governor, Tate Reeves, has stated that any changes to the flag should result from the will of the people in nationwide elections.
Legislative Black Caucus members say lawmakers should remove the Confederate emblem as further state flag voting would be bitter.
"The emotional strain that the current flag has on colored people extends across the United States. It throws us and makes people claim that we are backward and downward," said Caucus chairwoman Democratic Senator Angela Turner Ford from West Point.
Another nationally elected Republican official, Auditor Shad White, said Mississippi needed a flag "that is more uniform than the one we have now".
"If there was a vote to remove the Confederate images from our flag, I would vote to remove them," White said on Wednesday.
Republican state senator Chris McDaniel of Ellisville says Mississippi should keep its flag and people should resist efforts to remove historical monuments.
"Whether you acknowledge it or not, the American left is at war with us," McDaniel said on Facebook on Tuesday. “They see the founding as illegitimate, our history as spoiled and our republic as inherently evil. You won't stop. "
In a state-of-the-art newspaper funded by the State Chamber of Commerce, dozens of business people said Wednesday that the Confederate Battle of Mississippi flag emblem needs to be removed because it "maintains our state's negative stereotypes."
The chamber, called the Mississippi Economic Council, said for years that Mississippi should change its flag. The group said a new flag without Confederate images would improve economic opportunities and quality of life.
"The current flag is detrimental to Mississippi's image and reputation outside of our state and is detrimental to many Mississippians," the group said in the ad published in the Clarion Ledger.
Walmart announced on Tuesday that it would no longer display the Mississippi flag because of the Confederate emblem. Also on Tuesday, the large and influential Mississippi Baptist Convention said lawmakers were morally obliged to remove the Confederate image from the state flag because it "injured and shamed" many people.
At a rally at Black Lives Matter in Jackson on June 6, thousands of people cheered when an organizer said Mississippi should get rid of the Confederate pictures.
Legislators are in the final days of their annual meeting, and some are trying to build a bipartisan coalition to change the flag. But they need a two-thirds majority because most of the deadlines have passed, and that's a tough margin.
Some legislators want to keep the flag as it has been since 1894. Some say that the issue should be decided in a nationwide election.
All eight Mississippi public universities stopped raising the state flag years ago because of the Confederate symbol. University leaders were in the Capitol on Wednesday trying to build support for a legislative vote to change the flag.
"We know that this symbol holds us back in the eyes of citizens across the nation," said Mark Keenum, president of Mississippi State University. "And citizens around the world see this symbol as a symbol of hate and racism."
Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus.
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