The anti-racism protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd have pushed several communities in the U.S. to remove longstanding Confederate symbols that have held a central – and triggering – place in public life for years.
And now, the Mississippi State Legislature has decided to removed the Confederate symbol from its state flag.
The flag, seen below, has been the only state flag in the U.S. to continue to carry the symbol.
For many, the now successful road to removal was an emotional one.
Last Tuesday, while the move to amend the flag remained an unresolved issue, one Mississippi city’s mayor took matters into his own hands.
Mayor Johnny Magee of Laurel, Mississippi, was moved to tears as he signed an executive order to lower all state flags flown on Laurel lands and donate them to local libraries.
Laurel Mayor—Johnny Magee brought to tears as he issues executive order to remove confederate flags from City of Laurel. The mayor says growing up in the city of Laurel, the flag is a symbol of division.
According to the Laurel Leader-Call, Magee stopped for a full minute to hold back the tears during a press conference about the order.
In that speech, Magee felt no shame for the emotion he felt.
“I don’t apologize for being emotional. I have lived through some things with this flag and as they told Dr. King to wait. Time for waiting is over.”
He went on to address the urgency of his order.
“It’s also been used by some as an image of hatred, divisiveness and violence, none of which in any way represents the ideals and principles of our great nation, our proud state, or our vibrant city.”
“There comes a point in time in the annals of history when it becomes necessary to redefine who a people are, and what a collection of these people represent.”
“It is the opinion of the mayor of this city that now is such a time.”
At the event, the mayor also called on the Mississippi State Legislature to retire the state flag as well. As mentioned, Magee’s call was answered less than a week later in a 91-23 vote.
Facebook comments were utterly touched by the images of Mayor Agee’s tearful announcement.
Mississippi now begins the process of re-imagining its flag, so one that Magee can feel good about flies on public lands in both Laurel and the rest of Mississippi.