In a more local by not less important victory, Mississippi voters cast their ballots in favour of a new flag design, replacing the state’s long-controversial banner, which was adopted in 1894 and prominently featured the Confederate battle flag. A bill to alter the flag was passed by the Mississippi state legislature earlier this summer, in the wake of widespread protests about racial justice in America. The redesigned flag is called “The New Magnolia” and features the state flower surrounded by 20 stars, signifying the state’s position when joining the union, alongside the phrase “In God We Trust”.
“The New Magnolia flag is anchored in the center field by a clean and modern Magnolia blossom, a symbol long-used to represent our state and the hospitality of our citizens,” says Rocky Vaughan, the Ackerman, Mississippi-based graphic designer, in a statement released by the state’s department of archives and history. The new flag design was largely based on plans Vaughan submitted, with input from Sue Anna Joe, Kara Giles, Dominique Pugh, Clay Moss, and Micah Whitson. “The New Magnolia also represents Mississippi’s sense of hope and rebirth, as the Magnolia often blooms more than once and has a long blooming season.”
Despite some arguments from critics that changing the 1894 design would be an erasure of history, the new flag was approved by a wide majority of Missippians, receiving more than 71% of voters’ support, according to The Clarion Ledger. A similar attempt to redesign the flag in 2001 was brought to a vote, but 65% of voters at the time chose to keep the old design. The state Legislature is expected to pass the new flag into law during its next regular session in 2021, although it has already been seen flying on state buildings.
“Our flag should reflect the beauty and good in all of us. It should represent a state that deserves a positive image,” Vaughan adds in a further statement. “The New Magnolia Flag represents the warmth and strength of the good people of Mississippi.”
In a statement cited by CNN, state representative Jeramey Anderson, who was a co-author of the original bill, said that the decision to proceed with this design “was a bold, bipartisan step that shows the world Mississippi is finally ready to step out from under the cloud of slavery and Jim Crow. But it isn't the final step,” he added. “Mississippi and the United States remains plagued by systemic racism that keeps people of color from being truly free and equal."