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Mississippians react to vote to replace state flag
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Protesters hold Mississippi's now retired flag outside state capitol
Kobee Vance, MPB News

Mississippi legislators overwhelmingly voted to replace the state flag with its Confederate battle emblem and create a new one. The vote Sunday afternoon calls for the flag’s immediate removal. Residents are reacting to this historic decision.



Cheers rang out in the hall of the Mississippi Capitol after senators voted 37 to 14 to remove the state flag. The 126 year old flag is seen by many as a symbol of hate and oppression. Sharon Brown with Flag for All Mississippians has been working to change the flag since 2015. But, she says she will not stop at this victory. “I really want the real work to begin for us to unify. Hopefully with the confederate emblem removed off our flag we can begin to see better, bigger and greater economic opportunities, and our children can remain in the state," says Brown.

Pastor C.J. Rhodes of Mount Helm Baptist Church in Jackson was one of many who watched the vote from the Senate gallery. He and other black pastors took a stand against the flag at the capitol last week. Rhodes says “Many of us have been wanting this change at least since 2001. I think about people like Senator Henry Kirksey who was fighting for this when I was eight years old, and to see it finally happen in this year and in this legislature, and in the way that it was done I’m really thrilled about it.”

Paloma Wu with the Mississippi Center for Justice is also celebrating the historic vote. She says this is the first step in confronting institutional racism in Mississippi. “And a journey towards making it so that everybody in Mississippi feels proud when they look at the flag waving above our most powerful institutions of government in Mississippi," says Wu. "Not having to wonder whether or not we’re willing to take all of the next steps which we need to take to move Mississippi forward. So it’s an incredible day.”

Not everyone is celebrating the removal of the confederate battle flag. Lee Anglada of Biloxi says Mississippians should have been allowed to vote on the issue. He says “They’re doing it behind closed doors and the Governor promised us that he was not going to. That’s one of his campaign things that he talked about. He said ‘I don’t believe this should be a back room deal done by legislators, it should be voted on by the people. Apparently though, that has changed.”

The bill is heading to Governor Tate Reeves’s desk. He said in a statement that if the measure passed, he would sign it into law.