The Mississippi state House advanced legislation to change the Magnolia State’s flag, the last in the country to still include the stars and bars of the Confederacy.
The chamber advanced the bill by an 84-35 margin, allowing lawmakers in the state House to reach the two-thirds majority needed to suspend the rules to consider the change.
The House will then be able to consider the legislation and vote on the measure, which would go to the Senate if passed.
The resolution would establish a commission to redesign the flag, with the goal of removing the Confederate battle emblem. The resolution is the first legislative effort to change the flag since a 2001 voter initiative was batted down by a nearly 2-1 margin.
The flag was adopted in 1894 by white lawmakers and is the last in the nation to include the Confederate emblem.
“The legislature has been deadlocked for days as it considers a new state flag,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “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.”
“For economic prosperity and for a better future for my kids and yours, we must find a way to come together. To heal our wounds, to forgive, to resolve that the page has been turned, to trust each other. With God’s help, we can,” he added.
The state has received a flood of criticism over its flag amid widespread protests for racial justice following the police killings of George Floyd and other Black Americans.
Besides criticism from demonstrators, Mississippi has also been pressured by high-profile businesses and organizations.
Walmart is no longer displaying the Mississippi flag in stores in adherence with its policy “to not sell merchandise with the Confederate flag from stores and online sites,” and the NCAA banned any collegiate championship events from being played in states where the Confederate flag is prominently displayed, a policy that would impact only Mississippi.