MOSELLE, Miss. (WDAM) - 2020 has been a year we won’t forget and one for the history books.
One of the biggest stories of this year, the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, Mississippi reported its first coronavirus case and by April, Gov. Tate Reeves issued a statewide shelter-in-place order for the Magnolia State.
“Please stay home,” Reeves said. “If you can stay home, please stay home.”
As state governments issued restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19, the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May fueled a movement.
Across the country and in the Pine Belt, people came together and marched against racial injustice and police brutality.
“This right here what you see right now, this is us joining together to make a difference,” one Hattiesburg resident said. “We need a difference.”
The death of Floyd led to the removal of many contentious statues throughout the U.S. In the Pine Belt, residents from several counties also voiced their opinions on the confederate monuments.
“We’re not here to destroy this monument, but it is not representative of the people who live in Heidelberg anymore,” one Jasper County resident said of a Confederate monument in Heidelberg.
As nationwide protests continued in June, the attention increased on the confederate battle emblem on the Mississippi state flag. Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee was one of the first in the Pine Belt to remove the flag from all city buildings.
“They told Dr. [Martin Luther] King [Jr.] to wait, time for waiting is over,” Magee said.
A few days later, state lawmakers voted to retire the flag and left it up to voters to decide the next design.
“A flag is a symbol of our present, of our people and of our future,” Reeves said. “For those reasons, we need a new symbol.”
Another hot topic this year, the legalization of medical marijuana in Mississippi. Some were against it, others for it.
“If you believe in God, you believe that God put these herbs on for man to use,” one resident said.
In November, a majority of Mississippi voters approved Initiative 65 and also chose a new state flag.
“I think it’s the start of something new,” Mayor Toby Barker said. “I think it’s an acknowledgment of how far we’ve come. I think it’s an acknowledgment of all the courage of so many that brought us to this point. It’s a testament to the generations of people who lived under a banner that did not actually represent them.”
Another monumental moment this year, the approval of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use. In December, Mississippi received the first allotment of 25,000 doses. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs was the first person in the state to receive the vaccine.
“I’m just gonna say it straight up, it’s ugly right now and it’s about to get a whole lot uglier,” Dobbs said.
While there are many other events that took place in the state this year, there’s no doubt that 2020 will be remembered for a long time to come.