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Democratic senator John Horhn said changing the flag would not solve the effects of the country’s racist past

Lawmakers in Mississippi voted Sunday to remove the Confederate battle standard from the state flag, after nationwide protests drew renewed attention to symbols of the United States' racist past.

The measure passed with a 91-23 majority vote in the House of Representatives, triggering cheers in the Senate gallery. A few hours later, the Senate voted 37-14 for the bill.

"In the name of history, whether you're black or white, rich or poor, Democrat or Republican, I ask you today to stand in the name of history," Democratic senator Derrick T. Simmons urged his colleagues before the vote. "I ask each of you as we recognize and understand the Mississippi of yesterday, let's vote today for the Mississippi of tomorrow."

Senators celebrated with cheers, hugs and fist-bumps.

Mississippi is the only American state to incorporate the Confederate standard on its official flag, after nearby Georgia dropped it in 2003.

The criss-crossed diagonal stars pattern was used by southern troops, including Mississippians, during the 1861-1865 American Civil War — the bloody conflict that brought an end to slavery — and for many it remains a symbol of the country's dark racial legacy.

The bill calls for a nine-member commission to design a new flag that does not use the Confederate standard and does include the phrase "In God, We Trust."

State residents would vote on the design in November. If they reject the new design, Mississippi will go without a state flag until a new design is approved.

Democratic senator John Horhn said changing the flag was a "big step... in the journey we are on to recognize everybody's God-given humanity."

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden also hailed the decision.



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