Amid mounting pressure for Mississippi to remove the Confederate emblem from its state flag, Walmart has made the decision to stop displaying the flag at its stores.
The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer typically displays the local state flag at outposts across the United States. The decision, Walmart says, is in line with its 2015 announcement that it would no longer sell Confederate flag merchandise. The company, which had 85 stores in Mississippi as of January, will also cease sales of the state’s flag.
“We know the design of the Mississippi state flag is being discussed by various stakeholders. 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,” Walmart spokesperson Anne Hatfield said in a statement. “We believe it’s the right thing to do.”
In recent weeks, national conversation has turned to issues of police brutality and racial injustice following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis. Amid calls for societal change, there has been a renewed effort to remove memorials and statues dedicated to the Confederacy — with NASCAR announcing earlier that it will no longer allow Confederate flags at its races. In Mississippi, several state universities have stopped flying the state flag, and a bipartisan group of Mississippi lawmakers are calling for the Confederate emblem to be removed from the controversial flag.
In the corporate world, brands and retailers across all sectors are being asked to reflect upon their own internal practices, and to make commitments toward fighting systemic racism. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon announced in early June a $100 million commitment toward a new center on racial equity, which will support philanthropic initiatives in four key areas: finance, health care, education and criminal justice.
“To influence and lead change, we are going to use the power of Walmart to invest resources and develop strategies to increase fairness, equity, and justice in aspects of everyday life,” said McMillon. “We will find the natural overlaps between Walmart’s core business and society’s larger needs that perpetuate racism and discrimination. We will take actions to influence them in a positive direction, consistent with our human values of decency and equity.”