On Saturday, the state House and the Senate voted to allow Sunday’s debate on the flag bill that only required a simple majority to pass.
Recent protests against racial injustice and police brutality reinvigorated demands to remove Confederate symbols and pull down statues commemorating historical figures associated with slavery and racism.
This led to renewed calls from the state’s lawmakers and other institutions, including the Mississippi Historical Society, to change the state flag.
“Our position comes out of acknowledgement that the inclusion of Confederate imagery on the flag in 1894 did not represent all Mississippians,” the society said in a statement.
Confederate imagery continues to be associated with “with various acts of terror and violence that have accompanied some of our nation’s most recent racial injustices,” the society said. “We support retiring the current flag as a historical artifact and selecting a new flag that will unify, not divide.”
During Saturday’s debate, Rep. Edward Blackmon Jr., a Black Democrat, said, “[The flag] ought to be something that we all feel a sense of pride that when we see it, we know that that’s about us,” the Washington Post reported. “Not just some of us.”
Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is a Republican, strongly opposed changing the flag on Saturday, warning his colleagues that the American flag could be the next to be taken down.
McDaniel said he wanted voters to decide for themselves on whether to change the flag, according to the Post.
“I don’t see how that makes me a racist,” he said. “I don’t see how that makes me a terrible human being.”