The last state flag featuring a Confederate symbol has taken two more big hits this week, as Mississippi’s largest Christian organization came out against it and Walmart said it would stop flying the flag at its Mississippi stores.
The Mississippi flag still contains the Confederate battle star in its upper left corner, but it has been targeted for removal by many sources for years. The fight to remove it has gained renewed emphasis in the weeks following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody and the national unrest it sparked.
The Mississippi chapter of the Southern Baptist Convention, by far the biggest religious group in the Magnolia State with an estimated membership of more than 1 million, formally reiterated its opposition to the state flag at its convention Tuesday. Although the Baptist group had come out against the flag in the past, it had not been among a group of religious leaders that met on the capital steps in Jackson earlier this month to denounce the flag and urge the legislature to change it.
Late Tuesday, Walmart announced it would no longer sell the controversial banner and would also stop flying it at its 85 locations in Mississippi.
“We know the design of the Mississippi state flag is being discussed by various stakeholders,” said a statement the company sent to CNN Business. “While the issue continues to be discussed, we’ve made the decision to remove the Mississippi state flag from display in its current form from our stores.”
Mississippians voted almost 2-1 to keep the flag that last time the state held a referendum on the issue in 2001, but recently there has been another legislative push to change it. Most members of the Republican leadership in Jackson have said they are opposed to the flag, and this week another statewide elected GOP figure, Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, urged the flag “be retired and replaced.”
lt remains unclear, however, if there are enough votes among the GOP legislative majority to move a bill to the governor’s desk.
Republican Gov. Tate Reeves came out this week against a compromise proposal to have “separate but equal” state banners, and his position on the current flag has been any change should be approved by the state’s voters.
On social media posts, Mr. Reeves predicted “any attempt to change the current Mississippi flag by a few politicians in the Capitol will be met with much contempt.”