Republican officials in Mississippi on Wednesday proposed replacing the Confederate state flag battle emblem with the words “In God We Trust,” a call that comes amid nationwide protests over racial injustice.
Attorney General Lynn Fitch said changing the state flag would reflect “the love, compassion, and conviction of our people.”
“Incorporating ‘In God We Trust’ into our state seal is the perfect way to show everyone who we are,” added Fitch.
Mississippi has the only state flag with a Confederate emblem.
The call to change the flag’s design comes when Confederate monuments and statues reminiscent of past slavery have been toppled by protesters or deliberately removed by authorities in recent weeks amid a surge against racial inequalities.
Mississippi Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann said a new flag would help future generations.
“In my opinion, our flag should bear the Seal of the Great State of Mississippi and the state ‘In God We Trust’,” said Hosemann. “I am open to bringing all citizens together to determine a flag for our future.”
Mississippi Republican Governor Tate Reeves has said that any change to the state flag must be decided by the people in a state election.
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Legislative members of the Black Caucus say lawmakers should remove the Confederation emblem because another statewide flag vote would be bitter.
“The emotional anguish the current flag perpetuates on people of color is spreading across the United States, elevating us and making people claim we are backward and backward,” said committee chairwoman, Democratic Sen. Angela Turner Ford of West Point.
Another statewide Republican elected official, Auditor Shad White, said Mississippi needs a flag “that is more unifying than the one we have now.”
“If there was a vote to remove the Confederate images from our flag, I would vote to remove it,” White said Wednesday.
Republican State Senator Chris McDaniel of Ellisville is one of those who says that Mississippi should keep its flag and that people should resist efforts to remove historic monuments.
“Whether you recognize it or not, the American left is waging a war against us,” McDaniel said on Facebook on Tuesday. “They believe that the foundation is illegitimate, that our history is tainted, and that our republic is inherently evil. They will not stop.”
In an advertisement in a newspaper funded by the state chamber of commerce, dozens of business executives said Wednesday that the emblem of the Confederate battle should be removed from the Mississippi flag because it “perpetuates the negative stereotypes of our state.”
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The chamber, called the Mississippi Economic Council, said for years that Mississippi should change its flag. The group said a new flag without Confederate images would boost economic opportunities and improve quality of life.
“The current flag is damaging to the image and reputation of Mississippi for those outside of our state and is damaging to many Mississippians,” the group said in the announcement published in the Clarion-Ledger.
Associated Press contributed to this report..