Walmart announced Tuesday it will remove the Mississippi state flag from its stores, citing the growing debate around Confederate iconography.
"We know the design of the Mississippi state flag is being discussed by various stakeholders," Walmart said in a statement to CNN 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."
A representative for the retail giant said it is typical for stores to display their state flag; however, in wake of the widespread protests for racial justice, Walmart will prohibit locations from displaying the Mississippi flag and selling state flag-themed merch. The decision comes as activists and lawmakers across the country call for the removal of all Confederate symbols, including monuments and statues displayed on public property.
The Mississippi state flag has featured the Confederate emblem in the top left corner since 1894. Though there has been many calls to remove this symbol over the last century, state lawmakers have faced mounting pressure to redesign the flag amid outcries over systemic racism.
CNN points out a number of public universities, such as the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University, had already stopped flying the state's flag, while several municipalities announced they would do the same. The Gulfport City Council voted last week to remove the Mississippi flag from city hall, stating it was "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."
NASCAR also banned Confederate flags from its events, prompting several NASCAR drivers to also remove the Mississippi flag from their vehicles and firesuits.
"We have talked a lot about the Mississippi flag," driver Richard Lynn Stenhouse Jr. recently told Autoweek. "You never want to do anything to offend anybody on purpose. … But it’s our state flag. I’ve always been proud to be from Mississippi and I’ve always supported or wore the flag on my belt for a long time. I’ve never really thought of it offending anybody, but obviously with everything that’s going on in the country (with) the rebel flag and learning really how it offends so many people, I don’t intend to do that."