Mississippi officials in a historic ceremony retired the state’s flag with its confederate emblem, calling it a monumental occasion. The flag will be housed at the state’s two museums where it will be the subject of exhibits and study.
Honor guard members from the National Guard and the Mississippi Highway Patrol presented the three former state flags at the capitol to Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann, House Speaker Philip Gunn and Department of Archives and History Director Katie Blount. The solemn presentation was followed by a ceremony at the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.
“Today marks a turning point in our state’s history,” said Gunn. “Today we retire our former flag and begin the process of adopting a new flag.”
Five years ago, Speaker Gunn publicly said the state’s flag with the confederate emblem should be changed. Critics say the flag represents slavery and the state’s Jim Crow past. By a bipartisan vote on Sunday, lawmakers passed legislation to do just that. Now a nine member commission will design a new flag that cannot include the Confederate emblem and must include the words “In God We Trust.” The design will be on the November ballot.
“All three flags will be preserved here as part of the collections of the Department of Archives and History,” said Katie Blount with the department of archives and history.
“One of the flags will be included in a display exhibit that we will be adding to the Mississippi History museum that tells the history of the flag and the change over time.”
Pamela Junior, director of the museums, says she is excited about the lessons to come from preserving the flags in the museum where she believes they belong.
“It goes back to the civil war, the civil rights movement, Reconstruction it’s just so many labels that go under the flag," she said.
"So we’re ready to tell the stories. We’re ready to interpret it. It’s so important for our children.”
The former Mississippi flag adopted in 1894 was the last state banner in the U.S. that included the Confederate battle emblem.