Written by Jack Miller
Following the growing desire of the American public to reassess the country’s’ role throughout its history of acts of racial discrimination and racial terror, comes a wave of pressure from the public for government officials to notice the lasting impact it has had on patriotic and nationalistic imagery. While this places insignia- statues, names of buildings, and organizations- under scrutiny, it also calls into observation the flags we use to represent our states.
Mississippi is one of the states that is currently undergoing a relatively unheard of overhaul of its flag. The flag of Mississippi since 1894 had boldly and prominently displayed the Confederate flag, symbol of the confederacy following the seceding of the Southern states from the American Union during the American Civil War. Following the war, the state adopted this new flag and has flown it ever since.
However, on June 30, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves signed a bill which was passed by state legislature that very weekend to remove the flag and to propose the reimagining of a new flag for the state. Reeves is quoted saying, “A flag is a symbol of our present, of our people, and of our future, for those reasons, we need a new symbol.”
This change, unsurprisingly, has become a hotly contested issue in the Bayou State as the Confederacy holds a strong legacy there to this day. Groups aimed at ensuring the legacy of the Confederacy have gotten together to attempt to oppose and stop the change of the state’s flag. As attitudes in the United States continue to grow more antagonistic towards the Confederacy it seems like the change is here to stay.
Recently the committee tasked with the creation of a new flag opened the process to local designers to assist in the creation. The committee only had two stipulations: the new design must feature the phrase “In God We Trust” and the Confederate emblem had to remain absent from the design. The flag picked displays at the center a Magnolia (the state’s official flower) encircled by the phrase “In God We Trust” at the bottom and 21 stars above it. The 20 white stars representing Mississippi being the 20th state in the country and the largest star, with a golden design is meant to represent the Choctaw natives and other native peoples living in the area prior to statehood.
Many residents enjoy the new flag. Timothy Young, a local leader of the state’s Black Lives Matter movement told reporters, “I actually think it’s pretty nice looking… A new way to introduce ourselves in a brand new light.” While other locals are upset about the change of the flag calling it unnecessary and a removal of the state’s history. This flag will, if citizens vote it in, actually be the state’s third iteration of a state flag – the original actually containing a Magnolia tree before being taken down in favor of the Confederacy. Mississippi citizens will vote whether to return their flag to a more natural symbolic design on the ballot this November 2020.