Following shortly behind Forrest County – which removed the state flag of Mississippi from its properties as soon as the Mississippi Legislature struck down its official status last week – Lamar County on July 1 removed the banner from the chancery court and circuit court buildings along with the tax office and the chancery board room.
“Once the state Legislature declared that current state flag no longer the current state flag, the board removed the flag,” Lamar County Administrator Jody Waits said. “It’s been their position, that in honor of the state and the people that voted to have a state flag, that we’ve flown the state flag.
“And we’ll fly the state flag once they decide what that flag will be. But since the law says it’s no longer our flag, we have taken down the former state flag.”
Thirty-eight members of the state Senate voted to remove the flag, which was adopted in 1894 and features the battle emblem of the Confederacy in its upper left-hand corner. In the state House of Representatives, an overwhelming majority – 91-23 – also approved the bill, and Gov. Tate Reeves signed House Bill 1796 into law shortly after.
The bill was written by Philip Gunn, the Republican speaker of the state House.
A nine-person commission will be created to design a new option for the state flag, which will be presented to voters at the ballot box on Nov. 3. The commission has until Sept. 14 to present its design, which must include the words “In God We Trust.” The Confederate battle flag must not be a part of the new design.
Reeves, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Gunn will appoint three people each to the commission, and the governor’s appointees must include someone from the Mississippi Economic Council, the Mississippi Arts Commission, and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
If voters reject the commission’s design in November, commissioners will reconvene and present another design option for the flag to legislators during their 2021 session.
“We’ll work with the Department of Archives (and History) as to proper disposal, whether it’ll go into a museum or some sort of historical preservation,” Waits said. “But we’ll make sure that it’s properly preserved and taken care of.”