Reprinted from Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com), news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.
MS plans to fly a new state flag - a flag without the Confederate battle emblem in the corner. "Today, we and the rest of the nation can look on our state with new eyes, with pride and hope". Lawmakers in both chamber voted to surrender the Confederate battle emblem from their state flag.
In one of the clearest signs yet that sports figures who choose not to stick to sports can make a big difference in their communities, MS has chose to change its state flag after intense pressure that came largely from the football world.
Kylin Hill, a running back for the Mississippi State Bulldogs, said he would not play for the Bulldogs unless the flag was changed.
Democratic Senator David Jordan told his colleagues just before the vote that MS needs a flag that unifies rather than divides.
The bill calling for its removal passed 91-23 in the state House and 37-14 in the state Senate. "For the people who hold the palm of MS in their hands, for their wisdom and their strength, for them to vote the way they did is all but unbelievable to me, but I am ever so thankful for that vote".
Ultimately, the SEC's efforts were successful as coaches from around the state including Mississippi State's Mike Leach and Ole Miss' Lane Kiffin lobbied legislators at the state's capitol late last week and prompted the historic decision.
Sankey praised the coaches in MS that spoke out against the flag. MS is one of the poorest states in the U.S.
"I never thought this would happen", she continued.
"I would guess a lot of you don't even see that flag in the corner right there. So, I'm all for changing the design of it". Republican Gov. Tate Reeves has said he will sign the bill, and the state flag would lose its official status as soon as he signs the measure.
Mississippi Rules To Remove Confederate Symbol From Its Flag
Democratic Representative Robert Johnson of Natchez choked back tears as he told reporters that he has seen white colleagues develop more empathy about how the Confederate symbol is painful to him and other African Americans.
The new flag of MS can not contain the Confederate emblem and must include the words "In God We Trust". Voters will be able to approve the new design in the November 3 election. If the decision is rejected, then voters will have to vote for a different design that will be sent by the commission later on.
"We are better today than we were yesterday", Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, who authored the bill that passed on Sunday, told the non-profit news organization Mississippi Today.
"How sweet it is to celebrate this on the Lord's day", Gunn said. In 2001, voters decided against a change.
On the local level, Mayor Johnny Mage of Laurel, Mississippi, cried openly as he signed an executive order to remove the state flag from all city-owned buildings. ate's long-standing, divisive flag from all city-owned buildings. This current flag has in the canton portion of the banner the design of the Civil War-era Confederate battle flag, that has been the center of a long-simmering debate about its removal or replacement. Political, business, religious and sports groups also demonstrated support.
Religious groups said erasing the rebel emblem from the state flag is a moral imperative.
(NYSE: WMT) said it would not display the MS flag outside its local stores.
"This is a great day to be a Mississippian", Ole Miss athletic director Keith Carter said.
The state's Supreme Court said in 2000 that the MS banner lacked official status, but attempts made to decide the flag's future led to acrimony.
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