Voters in Mississippi gave approval to a new state flag that bears the image of a magnolia flower rather than a Confederate battle emblem.
Sixty-eight percent of Mississippi voters approved of the new state flag featuring a white magnolia bloom on a blue banner, with red and gold bars on each end. The path is now clear for the state legislature to enact the design into law during the 2021 legislative session that begins in January, and, soon after, the new flag will be flown at public buildings across the state. Already, Mississippi residents have been snapping up the newly designed flags to fly at their homes.
Mississippi has been without a state flag for the past several months. State lawmakers retired Mississippi’s 126-year-old flag on July 1, 2020 after a resurgence of racial justice campaigns called for the removal of Confederate monuments in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in police custody in Minneapolis.
In 2001, Mississippi voters, by a wide margin, voted to keep the state’s flag, rejecting the notion that the Confederate flag in the top left corner was a hateful reminder of slavery that should be removed. The renewed opposition to the state flag came not just from residents, but also businesses and athletic groups, suggesting that keeping the flag could have economic repercussions. The National Collegiate Athletic Association, for instance, warned Mississippi leaders that it wouldn’t hold major sporting events in the state if the Confederate iconography wasn’t removed from the flag.
The legislature, upon deciding to take down the state flag, had two rules for new flag submissions: The design must not contain images of the Confederate flag and must include the words “In God We Trust.” More than 3,000 submissions poured in for consideration and The Commission to Redesign the Mississippi State Flag selected “The New Magnolia” flag, which was created by Rocky Vaughn, a graphic designer. Design support was provided by Sue Anna Joe, Kara Giles, and Dominique Pugh.
Here’s a look at the new flag approved by voters:
The new flag features a circle of 20 five-point stars, indicating Mississippi’s status as the 20th state. A larger star at the top honors the area’s Native American tribes.
“The New Magnolia Flag represents the warmth and strength of the good people of Mississippi,” Vaughn said in a news release about the selected flag design. “Now is the time we show the world that we’re from Mississippi, the Magnolia State.”