The controversial state flag of Mississippi, the only state flag that still featured a Confederate symbol, is officially no more after Governor Tate Reeves signed a bill on Tuesday to replace the 126-year-old banner.
“This is not a political moment to me but a solemn occasion to lead our Mississippi family to come together and move on,” Reeves said on Tuesday during a ceremony to approve the bill, according to the Washington Post. “A flag is a symbol of our past, our present and our future. For those reasons, we need a new symbol.”
The Mississippi state legislature moved to replace the flag as the country as a whole has begun to reexamine Confederate symbols in the wake of the racial tensions that have once again peaked since the brutal police-involved killing of George Floyd.
The bill mandates that the new flag, which Mississippians will vote on this November, cannot include the Confederate symbol, and must incorporate the motto “In God We Trust.”
As the Post notes, the conversation surrounding Mississippi’s controversial flag is not a new one. However, even back in 2001, when the question came up in a statewide referendum, residents overwhelmingly voted to keep the flag as it was.
Now the course is changing.
“This is a new day for Mississippi,” state House Speaker Philip Gunn, a Republican, who has supported changing the flag for years said on Monday. “We are not disregarding our heritage, we’re not ignoring the past, but we are embracing the future here.”