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Walmart removes Mississippi flag from stores due to Confederate emblem

The retail giant wants to create a 'welcoming and inclusive experience'

The Mississippi state flag flies near the Capitol dome in Jackson on Jan. 10, 2019. (Photo by Brandon Dill for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Walmart has removed the Mississippi flag from all its stores and its website because the flag features a Confederate emblem, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported.

Why are they doing this? "We believe it's the right thing to do, and is consistent with Walmart's position to not sell merchandise with the confederate flag from stores and online sites, as part of our commitment to provide a welcoming and inclusive experience for all of our customers in the communities we serve," Walmart spokesperson Anne Hatfield said in a statement to the Commercial Appeal.

The decision to remove the state flag from stores reportedly occurred "a couple of weeks ago." Walmart banned the sale of Confederate flag merchandise in 2015.

What's going on with the flag debate? During this renewed push for the removal of Confederate monuments and symbols in public, there has also been a resurgence of opposition to Mississippi's state flag.

CNN Business reported that the state's major public universities, the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University, have stopped flying the flag. The city of Gulfport also banned the flag because it is "a painful reminder of past days of transgressions in this State and has also been used by some as an image of hatred, divisiveness, and violence."

The NCAA's Southeastern Conference told the state of Mississippi recently that if it does not change its flag, the state could be precluded from hosting championship events.

The Mississippi Baptist Convention, which has more than 500,000 members and 2,100 churches, issued a statement in opposition of the flag.

"While some may see the current flag as a celebration of heritage, a significant portion of our state sees it as a relic of racism and a symbol of hatred," the statement read. "The racial overtones of this flag's appearance make this discussion a moral issue."

Gov. Tate Reeves (R) said any change to the state flag should be approved through a statewide election. In 2001, Mississippi voters chose to keep the design.

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