June 30 (UPI) -- Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves on Tuesday signed a bill mandating the removal of the state flag and banning future use of the Confederate emblem.
Reeves said in a speech the state would begin the process of selecting a new flag that will be emblazoned with the words "In God We Trust" after lawmakers voted to remove the Confederate emblem from the flag over the weekend.
"This is not a political moment, it is a solemn occasion to come together as a Mississipi family, reconcile and move forward together. Now, more than ever, we must lean on our faith, put our divisions behind us and unite for a greater good," he said.
The flag with blue, white and red stripes and the Confederate emblem in its corner was adopted in 1894 and both the state House and Senate voted to alter the design on Sunday.
Reeves acknowledged the need to "commit the 1894 flag to history and find a banner that is a better emblem for all Mississippians but condemned protesters throughout the country who have torn down monuments to Confederate figures."
"There is a difference between monuments and flags, a monument acknowledges and honors our past, a flag is a symbol of our present, of our people and of our future," he said. "For those reasons, we need a new symbol."
The presence of the Confederate emblem on the flag has long been a source of tension in the state, but has come under increased scrutiny following worldwide protests in response to the police-involved killing of George Floyd, a black man in Minnesota.