Mississippi lawmakers vote to remove Confederate emblem from flag

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Gov. Tate Reeves has said he will sign the bill, and the state flag would lose its official status as soon as he signs the measure. Author: EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS Associated Press Published: 7:17 PM EDT June 28, 2020

AP

JACKSON, Miss — Mississippi will surrender the Confederate battle emblem from its state flag, more than a century after white supremacist legislators embedded it there a generation after the South lost the Civil War.

Mississippi’s House and Senate voted in succession Sunday afternoon to retire the flag, with broad bipartisan support. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves has said he will sign the bill, and the state flag would lose its official status as soon as he signs the measure. https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0

The state has faced increasing pressure to change its flag during the past month amid international protests against racial injustice in the United States.

A commission would design a new flag that cannot include the Confederate symbol and that must have the words “In God We Trust.” Voters will be asked to approve the new design in the Nov. 3 election. If they reject it, the commission will set a different design using the same guidelines, and that would be sent to voters later.

Mississippi has a 38% Black population — and the last state flag that incorporates the emblem that’s widely seen as racist.

Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn, who is white, has pushed for five years to change the flag, saying that the Confederate symbol is offensive. The House passed the bill 91-23 Sunday afternoon, and the Senate passed it 37-14 later.

“How sweet it is to celebrate this on the Lord’s day,” Gunn said. “Many prayed to Him to bring us to this day. He has answered.”

Debate over changing the flag has arisen before, and in recent years an increasing number of cities and all the state’s public universities have taken it down on their own. But the issue has never garnered enough support in the conservative Republican-dominated Legislature or with recent governors.

That dynamic changed in a matter of weeks as an extraordinary and diverse coalition of political, business, religious groups and sports leaders pushed to change the flag.

RELATED: ‘It’s time to end it’ | Mississippi lawmakers break deadlock, clear the way to remove Confederate emblem from flag null

RELATED: Mississippi governor: I’d sign bill to remove flag’s Confederate emblem

At a Black Lives Matter protest outside the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion in early June, thousands cheered as an organizer said the state needs to divorce itself from all Confederate symbols.

Religious groups — including the large and influential Mississippi Baptist Convention — said erasing the rebel emblem from the state flag is a moral imperative.

Business groups said the banner hinders economic development in one of the poorest states in the nation.

In a sports-crazy culture, the biggest blow might have happened when college sports leagues said Mississippi could lose postseason events if it continued flying the Confederate-themed flag. Nearly four dozen of Mississippi’s university athletic directors and coaches came to the Capitol to lobby for change.

“We need something that fulfills the purpose of being a state flag and that everybody in the state has a reason to be proud of,” said Mike Leach, football coach at Mississippi State University.

Many people who wanted to keep the emblem on the Mississippi flag said they see it as a symbol of heritage.

Legislators put the Confederate emblem on the upper left corner of Mississippi flag in 1894, as whites were squelching political power that African Americans gained after the Civil War.

The battle emblem is a red field topped by a blue X with 13 white stars. The Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups have waved the rebel flag for decades. Georgia put the battle emblem prominently on its state flag in 1956, during a backlash to the civil rights movement. That state removed the symbol from its banner in 2001. Larry Eubanks of Star waves the current Mississippi state flag as he sits before the front of the Capitol, Saturday, June 27, 2020, in Jackson, Miss. While a supporter of the current flag, Eubanks says he would hope lawmakers would allow a proposed flag change to be decided by the registered voters. The current state flag has in the canton portion of the banner the design of the Civil War-era Confederate battle flag, that has been the center of a long-simmering debate about its removal or replacement. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) AP

The Mississippi Supreme Court found in 2000 that when the state updated its laws in 1906, portions dealing with the flag were not included. That meant the banner lacked official status. The Democratic governor in 2000, Ronnie Musgrove, appointed a commission to decide the flag’s future. It held hearings across the state that grew ugly as people shouted at each other about the flag. null

After that, legislators opted not to set a flag design themselves. They put the issue on a 2001 statewide ballot, and people voted to keep the flag. An alternate proposal would have replaced the Confederate corner with a blue field topped by a cluster of white stars representing Mississippi as the 20th state.

Democratic state Sen. Derrick Simmons of Greenville, who is African American, said the state deserves a flag that will make all people proud. “Today is a history-making day in the state of Mississippi,” Simmons told colleagues before the Senate voted for passage. “Let’s vote today for the Mississippi of tomorrow.”

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L’Oreal to remove words like ‘whitening’ from skin products

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The company’s advertising has been the target of criticism, that it’s focused on white consumers, in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody.

AP

PARIS, France — French cosmetics giant L’Oreal said Saturday that it will remove words like “whitening” from its skin care products, a move that comes amid global protests against racism sparked by the death of George Floyd in the United States.

The company said in a statement Saturday that it “has decided to remove the words white/whitening, fair/fairness, light/lightening from all its skin evening products.”

L’Oreal’s decision follows a similar move by Anglo-Dutch firm Unilever on Thursday. It is among a number of companies that have been the target of criticism in the wake of Floyd’s death following his arrest in Minneapolis. FILE – In this file photo dated Wednesday, May 23, 2012, the L’Oreal logo at the 65th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France. In a statement issued Saturday June 27, 2020, French cosmetics giant L’Oreal says it will remove words like “whitening” from its skin care products following criticism of the company amid global protests against racism. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, FILE) AP

Earlier this month, L’Oreal tweeted that that it “stands in solidarity with the Black community and against injustice of any kind. … Speaking out is worth it.” The post drew a negative reaction from people who see the company’s business model and advertising as focused on white consumers.

English model Munroe Bergdorf notably accused the beauty brand of hypocrisy for having fired her three years ago. Bergdorf was sacked as L’Oreal UK’s first openly transgender model in 2017 for decrying “the racial violence of white people.”

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Premieres June 30th on National Geographic

The new item blasting off store shelves…Looks like neighborhoods are going to be very noisy for the 4th of July week, so make sure your pets are safe and you’re stocked up on ear plugs 🎆🎇 🎆

https://media.fox43.com/embeds/mobile/video/521-58db2a10-77be-4769-a52e-4463776225d9/amp#amp=1 local

Families are filling fireworks stores as COVID-19 brings new restrictions & cancellations on shows across the region. Author: Jamie Bittner (FOX43) Published: 11:00 PM EDT June 22, 2020

Call it the new toilet paper, fireworks are now emptying store shelves across the region.

Phantom Fireworks in Hopewell Township told FOX43 business is normally up this time of the year. But in 2020, manager Bill Hunt told FOX43 the store has seen a nearly 20-30% increase in sales.

“It seemed like it was our 4th of July weekend when we’re extremely busy, cars out the door,” said Hunt about this past weekend as he also told FOX43 a buy one, get one sale also helped draw customers into the store. null

Hunt said the store is operating under new safety protocols by limiting the number of customers inside to around 160 people at a time. Normally, the store would hold around 235 customers. Store workers are also wearing face shields and all customers are also asked to wear a mask while shopping inside.

“When we get to our capacity we’re actually going to limit the amount of people who come in to groups of two and children under 18 won’t be allowed in just for flow to go through the store a lot better,” said Hunt. 

Hunt hopes the early rush on fireworks will actually help ease the crowds July 4th weekend and promote social distancing by spreading out sales.

“All the fireworks are canceled, so the kids still want to see some sort of fireworks,” said Erik Sheppard, who drove from Baltimore after his local fireworks events were canceled. 

Sheppard, along with other customers, left with the store with shopping carts filled to the brim with fireworks. 

“During this time period this actually means everything because we’ve been in so long, especially the kids, that’s another reason why I wanted to do this because I know they’re probably more bored than we are,” he said. 

Hunt reminds everyone who plans to buy and set off fireworks to prioritize safety.

“We want everybody to be safe. We want to make sure everybody knows fireworks are very safe if used the correct way,” he said. 

RELATED: Despite pandemic, White House will still host Fourth of July event this year

Lebanon plans to hold its usual fourth of July celebration even though the city is still in the yellow phase of reopening. Harrisburg as well will light up the sky at 9:15 p.m. on City Island the night of the 4th. However, the event is happening with changes due to COVID-19. https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0

York County, Hanover, Wrightsville, and Red Lion plan to hold fireworks displays over the holiday weekend.

July 4th celebrations in Springettsbury Township have been postponed to September 26. York City, Jacobus, and Shrewsbury have canceled fireworks displays. Fireworks at Long’s Park in Lancaster are also canceled.

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