The Mississippi legislature may have the votes necessary to change the state flag, which currently features the emblem of the Confederacy.
“Supporters of a flag change worked through the night to secure the remaining votes necessary for a successful vote to change the state flag,” State Representative Robert Johnson III, a Democrat, told NBC on Friday. Johnson is the head of the Democrats in the state’s House of Representatives.
“The votes to make that change are there in the House and appear to be there in the Senate,” Johnson continued. “There very well may be a first step taken today in the House by passing a rules suspension to take up a bill to remove the current state flag.”
A two-thirds majority would be required to enact a rules suspension in the legislature, which would allow lawmakers to change the state flag without a veto. Proposals to change the flag have come up before, but have never been passed.
Governor Tate Reeves, a Republican, expressed ambivalence on Thursday regarding changing the flag.
“I don’t think that if you want to keep the flag you’re automatically a traitor or racist,” Reeves wrote in a Facebook post. “I also understand that a flag isn’t about the past; it is a banner for the present. Outside of all the corporate posturing and preening, there is honest pain and discomfort felt when some Mississippians look at the symbol on our flag.”
Reeves continued, “I’m torn on the path forward for our state….I still think a vote of the people that this flag represents is the best way.”