On Sunday, Mississippi lawmakers voted to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag.
The bill calling for its removal passed 91-23 in the state House and 37-14 in the state Senate.
Before Sunday’s vote, Mississippi’s state flag was the only state banner remaining in the country that still depicted an overt Confederate symbol, according to the New York Times. (The emblem has remained on the state flag for 126 years.)
Now, the bill is off to Republican Governor Tate Reeves, who has expressed that he will sign it.
A commission in charge of the flag’s redesign will also be formed, per the bill’s language, and Mississippi voters will need to approve it in November. (If rejected, the commission will draft another redesign, to be presented to the Legislature in 2021.)
Past attempts to change the flag, such as a 2001 public referendum, have not gone through.
The decision comes at a time of deep reckoning with the country’s racist past and present, in light of protests against the racism and police violence experienced by Black Americans.
Ahead of the vote, prominent figures and institutions weighed in: The NCAA, the collegiate sports organization, announced earlier this month that states in which the Confederate flag had a “prominent presence” would be barred from hosting championship games.
Walmart, the retail giant, removed the Mississippi state flag from display in its stores on June 23. Others, such as country singer and Mississippi native Faith Hill, directly called for the flag’s removal.
Amid recent, ongoing protests for the Black Lives Matter movement, calls for the removal of Confederate statues, symbols, and names have abounded.
At some demonstrations, protesters have taken matters into their own hands, using a variety of tactics to remove statues depicting slaveholders, colonizers, and figures of the Confederacy.
The Mississippi vote formalizes a similar push.
In a statement before the vote, Democratic state senator Derrick Simmons encouraged colleagues to cast their votes for the “Mississippi of tomorrow,” according to NBC News.
“In the name of history, I stand for my two sons, who are one and six years old, who should be educated in schools and be able to frequent businesses and express their Black voices in public places that all fly a symbol of love, not hate,” Simmons said.
Upon the vote, there was a standing ovation within the Mississippi State Capitol, according to videos from the scene.
Yesterday was a historic moment and a day we shall never forget. Mississippi House & Senate voted to allow the introduction of legislation that will #TakeItDown. The Mississippi state flag is finally coming down and being placed into a museum. #MississippiFlag (video:RossAdams) pic.twitter.com/qEZQO7IODQ
— Rep. Jeramey Anderson (@jerameyanderson) June 28, 2020
Excitement and support for the decision poured in on Twitter as well.
If you From Mississippi you felt this one ❤️ 🤞🏾
— Kylin Hill (@H_Kylin) June 27, 2020
Kylin Hill, a running back for the Mississippi State Bulldogs, said he would not play for the Bulldogs unless the flag was changed. Other sports figures in Mississippi, including coaches like University of Mississippi’s Lane Kiffin and Mississippi State’s Mike Leach, also pushed for a change to the flag.
Big salute to EVERY university in this State that helped ….
— Kylin Hill (@H_Kylin) June 28, 2020
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