The past month of police brutality protests and social justice reform movements have revived attention to America’s continued use of the Confederate flag. Two weeks ago, NASCAR banned the flag, which to many is a symbol of slavery and racism, from all racing events. The US Navy and Marines have also moved to ban the flag from public display.
The Mississippi state flag includes Confederate imagery. As a chain-wide protocol, Walmart typically displays state flags at their store locations. However, the company announced on Tuesday (June 23) that, following the recent movements to eliminate Confederate imagery, it will no longer brandish the Mississippi flag at its stores within the state.
“We know the design of the Mississippi state flag is being discussed by various stakeholders,” Walmart said in a statement to CNN Business. “While the issue continues to be discussed, we’ve made the decision to remove the Mississippi state flag from display in its current form from our stores.”
The controversial state symbol has also been revisited in recent weeks, as several institutions and voter groups have called for Mississippi to officially retire the flag. The University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University previously stopped flying the flag, soon to be followed by the city of Gulfport, Mississippi in an effort to acknowledge the flag’s “painful reminder” of “hatred, divisiveness and violence.”
An online petition urging state officials to change the flag has garnered over 143,000 signatures. Additionally, the NCAA recently announced it would not hold any athletic championships in Mississippi until the flag is changed.
The efforts have pushed state lawmakers to begin conversations about abandoning the flag. However, Gov. Tate Reeves is against legislators approving or denying the change and instead wants to put the issue up to a public vote. In a tweet shared on Monday (June 22), Reeves called a new flag a “separate but equal” option and referred to a 2001 referendum where Mississippi voters overwhelmingly decided against changing the flag’s Confederate imagery.
See his tweet below.
Over the weekend there has been a proposal floating amongst some in the legislature to create a second Mississippi flag. Let’s call it the “Separate but Equal” flag option.— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) June 22, 2020
While well-intentioned I’m sure, it does not meet the threshold. pic.twitter.com/f2aOLgV75O