Mississippi will fly a new state flag with magnolia and the phrase “We trust God,” with voters approving the design Tuesday. It is replacing retired Confederate flag state legislators months ago as part of the national account of racial injustice.
The magnolia flag was the only design on the universal ballot, and voters were asked to say yes or no. The majority said yes.
Legislators will have to put the design into law, but they are expected to do so without fanfare because they have already done the hard work of pulling the flag some people wanted to keep.
Mississippi has been without a flag since late June, when lawmakers relinquished the last state flag in the United States that included the Confederate Battle Emblem – a red field topped with a blue X with 13 white stars. The rebel flag has been used by Ku Klux Klan groups and is widely condemned as a racist.
The new Mississippi flag has the state flower on a dark blue background with red bars on both ends. Magnolia is surrounded by stars representing Mississippi as the 20th state. The flag also contains one star made of diamond shapes that represents the Native American people who lived on Earth before the arrival of the others.
White racists in the state legislature adopted the Confederate flag in 1894 amid a backlash to the power blacks gained during Reconstruction.
For decades, the science has been divisive in a country with a large black population, currently around 38%. The majority of voters chose to keep the flag in the 2001 election, but many cities, counties, and all public universities in Mississippi stopped flying it due to the Confederate symbol. Many rolled the Mississippi flag after mid-2015, when a white man shot and killed nine black people who were worshiping at a church in Charleston, South Carolina; He had previously stepped forward to take pictures with the rebel flag.
Until this summer, the majority of Mississippi lawmakers were unwilling to consider changing the flag because they deemed the issue too volatile. The momentum changed as protests erupted across the United States after the killing of a black man in Minneapolis police custody. The latest push to change the Mississippi flag came from business, education, religious and sports groups – including, in particular, the Mississippi Baptist Convention and the Southeastern Conference.
Angela Reginal, 53, of Pearl, said she voted for the new design. Reginal, who is black, said the old Confederate flag was “a part of history,” and although she said it never bothered her, she believed it needed to change.
“For me, if it hurts my brother, I think it needs to change,” said Reginal, who works in the home health agency office.
Becky Roth, a white voter in the same district in Pearl, said she voted for the new flag but wanted to keep the old flag.
“If you try to erase history, you have to repeat it,” said Roth, 50, a bank employee.
Joan Martin, 79, a retired Picayune registered nurse, said she voted for the new science because “I had no choice.”
Martin said, who is white, “There was only one thing and I think it looks beautiful and he said, ‘We trust God,’ so I voted yes to him.”
The Old Flag Retirement Law states that the new law cannot include the Confederate battle slogan and must be “in God we trust.” The request for the religious phrase helped convince some conservative lawmakers to abandon the ancient science.
Taderell Lamont Roberts, 48, from Picayune, has his middle name, which is written on the name sticker on his Heritage Plastics work shirt, where he works as a foreman. He said he voted for the new science.
“This old flag to me represents a lot of rebellion, you know, good old boys,” said Roberts, who is Black. “It never bothered me. … But it is time for a different science so that our new generation can see everything that was in the past, and they don’t have to deal with that. We have grown up to live with it. But I’m glad it’s time for a change.”
The audience has submitted nearly 3,000 flag designs. A committee of nine people – with members appointed by the governor, deputy governor and speaker of the House of Representatives – chose the magnolia flag to enter the ballot.
If the voters had rejected the magnolia flag, the committee would have designed another flag that still could not include the symbol of the Confederacy and must include “In God we trust.” This design was supposed to go to the ballot in November 2021.
Separately, supporters of the Old Mississippi Flag have begun an initiative that could revive the ancient flag by putting up a Confederate-themed banner and some other designs for a statewide vote. But they face significant hurdles in gathering enough signatures to get their ideas into the ballot, and their efforts may be complicated by limited public interaction during the coronavirus pandemic.