Mississippi state flag officially retired after 126 years

Updated: Jul. 1, 2020 at 10:22 PM EDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Mississippi state flag was taken down from the State Capitol for the final time Wednesday afternoon.

Honor Guard members pulled the flag down from the flag pole and folded it ahead of a retirement ceremony.

Senator John Horhn said he began to tear up when he saw the flag come down.

“Mississippi is a great place, but if we don’t put these impediments out of the way, we’ll never succeed and we’ll never get to our final destination,” Senator Horhn said.

The flag was then presented to Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann and House Speaker Philip Gunn, who helped deliver it to the Museum of Mississippi History.

“Today we come to terms with our past, and we look toward our future,” Gunn said.

Hosemann says the past will be remembered, and not retired alongside the flag.

“We do not retire the ability of any person to fly this flag. We will shortly fly a new flag, and it will be a new flag for all of our citizens,” Hosemann said.

The flag will be encased and on display at the Mississippi History Museum.

“This fight’s been going on longer than I’ve been alive, and to this moment where we retire this flag and hopefully replace it with something more unifying... it’s amazing,” Reverend C.J. Rhodes said.

Rhodes says the symbol of the flag being removed will help open up new opportunities in the future.

Hinds County Supervisor Credell Calhoun said he’s been fighting to get the flag changed for 40 years. He was surprised at the speed the vote was able to pass this time around and was complimentary of all the legislators who helped pass the bill and take the plan to fruition.

“I didn’t think it would come this fast,” he said. “There was no stopping it once the Speaker and Lieutenant Governor were on the same page.”

Calhoun says black students in Mississippi no longer have a symbol to impede them and believes they will be able to work harder in the future.

“It affects young people in a big way,” he said.

“This has been just a signal that this state can change,” noted Rep. Jarvis Dortch, D-Jackson. “I think there are a lot of people who think that Mississippi is just always going to be Mississippi when it comes to healthcare, education, infrastructure. Our inability as a legislature and a state to deal with serious problems is something people have just gotten used to. And this is a sign that we can take on big challenges and change.”

“I’m a freshman lawmaker,” explained Rep. Daryl Porter, D-Summit. “So, I’m elated to have been a part of the process in moving Mississippi in a new direction, moving Mississippi forward and bringing down the flag.”

Some didn’t realize the ceremony would happen so soon and caught the motorcade leaving with the flags.

“It felt great to really see that,” said Cassandra Welchlin with the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable. “For me, it felt like a burial… A burial that was happening and an end to something that has been so disheartening for black folks in Mississippi.”

Some even had mixed emotions about it.

“It’s a very historic day,” recognized Rep. Chris Brown, R-Nettleton. “I don’t agree with the process that they went through to take it down. I do think that the people, if we let it up to the people, the people would’ve voted to take it down. So, I disagree with the process but it’s been done and it’s a historic day for the state of Mississippi”

The Mississippi Legislature voted on a bill Sunday, June 30, to change the flag.

Gov. Tate Reeves then signed the historic bill Tuesday at the Governor’s Mansion, immediately removing official status for the 126-year-old banner.

Mississippi is now without a flag until a vote is done in November. A committee of nine people will come up with a design that will be placed on ballots where Mississippians can vote. If the flag does not pass with a majority vote, a new design will be created and voted on in the next election.

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