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Confederate Painting in Mississippi Capitol Must Go, Senator Says

Two white-haired generals in uniform raising the Confederate flag remain memorialized in a painting that peers down from the dome of the Mississippi Capitol rotunda even several years after the lawmakers who work beneath its gaze voted to retire the old Confederate-themed state flag. But one young Black lawmaker wants to change that.

Read the text of Senate Bill 2217.

“The legislative body determined about three years ago, also due to public pressure, that the flag that has the Confederate emblem in it shouldn’t represent Mississippi,” Sen. Bradford Blackmon, D-Canton, told the Mississippi Free Press on Wednesday.

On Feb. 2, he introduced Senate Bill 2217, which would require the State to remove the painting and set up a commission to recommend a replacement. Blackmon said the replacement should represent all Mississippians.

Mississippi Code § 55-15-81 (2019) prohibits removing or replacing art, monuments or areas in public places that represent previous wars the U.S. was involved in, including the Civil War. S.B. 2217 would amend the code to add that only the Legislature could make an act to authorize repurposing these dedications.

‘Raised to the Top of the Dome’

Sen. Bradford Blackmon’s bill proposes creating a commission including two senators, two state representatives and one member each from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the Mississippi Economic Council and the Mississippi Arts Commission. The commission would hold public meetings to determine a replacement for the painting.

“When assessing options for an image to replace the Confederate flag in the Capitol rotunda, give serious consideration to a depiction of the slaves who contributed to the construction of the State Capitol Building,” S.B. 2217 says.

Sen. Bradford Blackmon, D-Canton, authored Senate Bill 2217 to remove the painting in the rotunda of Mississippi’s Capitol building that depicts two Confederate generals with a Confederate flag. AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

In a follow-up interview with the Mississippi Free Press, Blackmon clarified that he wants the new artwork to honor the enslaved people who built the old Capitol buildings in the 1800s as well as the newly freed Black people who constructed the current Capitol building

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