Updated: Jul 24, 2020
In a historic vote, the Mississippi State legislature has voted and passed a bill to remove the Confederate emblem from the state’s flag. The legislation -- which cleared the state House in a 91-23 vote and the state Senate with a 37-14 vote -- comes as Mississippi lawmakers have been weighing a change to their flag for weeks amid ongoing racial justice protests across the country, and finally, on this past Sunday, a decision that has been 126 years overdue, was made.
So what does this bill entail exactly? What does this mean moving forward, what’s the process of getting a new flag? We’ve read Resolution No. 79 for more details, here’s what you need to know:
The Mississippi legislature has agreed to establish a commission to provide a new flag design that has to be recommended by September 14, 2020. The guidelines of the new design are: it cannot have any form of Confederate iconography, and it must include the phrase “In God We Trust”. The design recommended by the commission will be placed on the ballot in a special election on November 3, 2020.
Here’s where that extra small fine print comes in… the commission (which has yet to be named) has to design a flag within 7 weeks (46 days) and the approval of the flag must pass by a majority vote. If the first design does not pass, with majority ruling, the “new” flag will be redesigned by the commission and submitted by the legislature during the 2021 regular session.
Now that we’re all caught up to speed, here’s a few questions we had here at ‘Sipp Talk after digesting the news:
How are they choosing these committee members?
Will it TRULY be a representation of Mississippi seeing as how 40% of our beloved state’s population is Black.
And why must it say “In God We Trust”?
With a population of roughly 2.97 million people and over 37% of those residents being Black, Mississippi has a legacy of leaving a large portion of residents out of political conversations. We want to know how will this new flag be created in a way that voices the history and legacy of all Mississippians? The state owes us all the same rights, dignity, and respect as equal citizens so we have to demand it. There are communities all over this state that seem to go forgotten by our legislature in Jackson evidenced by bills not passed such as HB 36 which would make county election commissioners nonpartisan officials, HB 45 which would allocate funding for school districts across the state to hire social workers and psychologists for children, or even HB 64 that would prohibit ticket quotas in Mississippi and thus limit the police state. With all of these bills dying on the floor this year alone, Mississippians have to ensure that our officials are willing to vote in our best interests in order to secure our own safety and agency.
At 'Sipp Talk we want you to engage with these lingering questions and make sure that you are aware that everything that glitters ain’t gold. Now that the flag has been taken down and we have this moment to celebrate shedding over a century’s worth of symbolic and actualized oppression we ask, “Now what’s next”? We have the tools to create a symbol of the Mississippi that we know, who raised us, fed us, birthed us. But with the commission formed by Resolution No. 79 consisting of 9 members, and three of whom will be from the Mississippi Arts Commission, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the Mississippi Economic Council respectively, there appears to be open seats on this board that we want to be filled with people that truly represent the state we all call home. Yes, we are moving forward and ‘Sipp Talk recognizes that, but we also have to question the things that we take for granted and are being presented with. Who gets to decide that our flag has to be inscribed with the phrase “In God We Trust”? What is the process behind finding artists to create a new flag, will there be any Black and Brown bodies on this commission, what are the economic implications of having a new flag? Does a new flag mean that this will be a new Mississippi, or will Mississippi keep doing what Mississippi has always done and force Mississippians to be the revolutionaries who we’ve always been?