“We know the design of the Mississippi state flag is being discussed by various stakeholders,” Walmart spokesperson Anne Hatfield told FOX 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.”
Mississippi’s state flag features a design taken from the Confederate battle flag, which has become associated with white supremacist groups, in its upper left corner. Hatfield said Walmart does not sell merchandise with the Confederate flag “as part of our commitment to provide a welcoming and inclusive experience for all of our customers in the communities we serve.”
Confederate symbols have faced increasing public scrutiny over the past few years as the Black Lives Matter movement has gained momentum in its efforts to stop systematic racism and inequalities against black people. Statues of Confederate leaders have been removed – or toppled – in a number of cities amid recent protests over the treatment of black people by police and the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
Walmart isn’t the only organization to distance itself from Mississippi’s flag. The NCAA last week said it would prohibit championship events from taking place in any state that flies the Confederate battle flag. Mississippi is the last state still using the symbol on its flag.
The Mississippi Baptist Convention, a major church organization, also called for the state to change its flag, the Mississippi Clarion Ledger reported Tuesday. Shawn Parker, executive director of the group, said the flag’s racial overtones “make this discussion a moral issue.”
“While some may see the current flag as a celebration of heritage, a significant portion of the state sees it as a relic of racism and a symbol of hatred,” he said, according to the newspaper.