" When I heard the news, I burst into tears. Tears of joy and gratitude. But also tears in remembrance of what happened all those years for that flag to go away, " said Myrlie Evers-Williams, a black activist whose husband Medgar , celebrates a civil-rights activist, was assassinated by a white supremacist in 1963 in Mississippi. "His death was not in vain," adds his widow. I have the feeling that Medgar and knows that its wings clapping of joy. "
on The 28th of June, the elected officials of Mississippi have voted to replace the flag in place for 126 years. This is the last banner of a State in the United States bearing the remains confederate. For generations, critics argue that a State with 38% of the population is african-american, the highest rate in the nation, should not be represented by this badge, a symbol of slavery and oppression, held up by the Ku Klux Klan and groups supremacist. There were few spectators in the galleries of the Capitol of Jackson, the State capital, due to social distance, but when the law was passed, they forgot for a moment the virus to kissing. Two days later, the governor has signed the measure.
1861 : "A negro is not equal to the white man"
The battle lasted a long time. The Mississippi with ten other States seceded to maintain slavery, the basis of its economic model, when Abraham Lincoln, an abolitionist, was elected president in 1861. "Our new government is founded... upon the great truth that a negro is not equal to the white man ; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his condition as normal and natural," said the vice-confederate president Alexander Stephens in 1861. Even after the defeat of the South, the emblems of the confederacy have continued to flourish. The Mississippi was adopted in 1894, almost thirty years after the end of the Civil war, this flag decorated with the blue cross on a red background which was actually originally the banner of war of the Confederates.
For years, there have been multiple attempts to replace it. In vain. In 2001, after a referendum, the voters decided by an overwhelming majority of the keep. The massacre five years ago by a white supremacist of nine Blacks in a temple at Charleston, in South Carolina, sparked a national movement and raised hopes. The killer posed for photos with weapons and the flag of the south and called for a " race war ". Under pressure, the governor republican of South Carolina has passed legislation to remove the banner confederate that was flown over the Capitol since 1961. To Montgomery, in Alabama, the governor has also made picking up the flag.
More than a hundred symbols confederate and monuments have been removed from the United States, but there were always some 1 700 in 2019, according to a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In Mississippi, elected officials have nothing wanted to know, even if multiple cities and eight universities have removed it. The flag has returned to the forefront this spring after the death of George Floyd, this Black killed in a police killing in Minneapolis, and the huge demonstrations in favor of greater justice. Everywhere, throughout the country, it has been debunked statues of personalities deemed racist, including presidents, Princeton has the same débaptisé the building Woodrow Wilson... The elect of the Mississippi, once more, have been inundated with calls from activists, athletes, businessmen, religious leaders.
But the resistance was still very strong. For a lot of white inhabitants of the State, the flag represents a historical legacy of which they are proud. They see it as the memory of the blood shed by their ancestors. Several surveys have shown that nearly half of the State was hostile to a change. They insist on the fact that the struggle of the South was not for the maintenance of slavery, but for a noble cause, its independence and its freedom. "The citizen-soldiers who fought for the Confederacy embody the best qualities of America. The preservation of freedom was the motivating factor in the decision of the South to fight ", says on its website, the division of the Mississippi of the Sons of veterans of the confederate. "I don't think that the topic is really the flags, said Chris McDaniel, an elected republican, an ardent defender of the banner. It is more important than that. I think that we are talking about a structural revolution and a cultural push by the far left, the left is intolerant. "
A party of his fellow republicans were against a change, arguing that the voters had already voted in a referendum in 2001. The elected members of the House finally voted (91 votes to 23) in favour of a new flag. And 37 compared to 14 in the Senate. The republican governor, Tate Reeves, has signed the measure after being very warm. "This is not a political movement for me, but a solemn occasion to gather our family from Mississippi, to reconcile and move forward ", he said in his speech.
" The Mississippi river has two economies that are viable and well-loved : football and the baptist Church. The torture and death of George Floyd have finally awakened the consciousness of the two, " says Aunjanue Ellis, an actress and activist. The baptist Convention, the largest congregation in the State with half a million of the faithful, convened a rare press conference to explain that the flag was " a relic of racism and a symbol of hate."
The financial aspect important
Two sports organizations, The National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Southeastern Conference have announced their side that they would prohibit any championship in the Mississippi as the emblem flotterait. Kylin Hill, a player of american football, has threatened not to play for the university of Mississippi and dozens of coaches of football and basketball came to the State Capitol to lobby elected officials.
More than the moral argument, it is the financial aspect which no doubt meant a lot. The business community and the republican moderates felt that Mississippi, one of the poorest States in the country, could not afford to destroy its reputation and lose the income of the matches and other events.
A committee must now work on a new emblem, which must contain the motto " In God We Trust ". It will be presented to voters in November. But the battle continues. There are still hundreds of emblems confederates in Mississippi and elsewhere. The flags of Arkansas, Florida, Georgia and Alabama are also inspired by the banner of the confederation. Several military bases bear the names of the officers southerners. Donald Trump announced that he would veto any legislation that would require changing the name of the foundation. A real headache for the Republicans.p>
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