- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 8, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi’s only black congressman is stepping up his effort to remove all images of the Confederate battle flag from the U.S. House chamber and House office buildings in Washington.

That includes the Mississippi state flag, which has featured the battle emblem since 1894.

Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson filed a resolution June 23 to remove Confederate images from Capitol spaces controlled by the House. The resolution was sent to the House Administration Committee led by Republican Rep. Candice Miller of Michigan.

Thompson sent Miller a letter Wednesday urging her to advance his proposal.

“I do not feel there is much investigation or fact-finding that needs to be done,” Thompson wrote. “The Confederate States of America was a treasonous group of rebels who made every effort to tear apart this country and continue their traditions of enslavement of Black people.”

He said the U.S. House “should not display an image of an insurrectionist movement with which this country went to war.”

Thompson does not fly the Mississippi flag in his offices.

Debate about Confederate symbols gained new traction after the June 17 massacre of nine black worshippers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in what police say was an attack motivated by racial hatred. The white man charged in the slayings had posed with the Confederate battle flag in photos posted online before the slayings.

Both of Mississippi’s Republican U.S. senators and the Republican state House speaker said after the Charleston attack that Mississippi should redesign its flag to remove a symbol they consider divisive.

Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, both Republican, have said they respect results of a 2001 election in which Mississippi voters decided nearly 2-to-1 to keep the state flag. They said if the flag design is reconsidered, it should be done by voters rather than by the state Legislature.

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Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: https://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .


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