JACKSON, Miss. | Mississippi is literally running some proposals up a flagpole as it searches for a new state banner.
A commission that’s working to recommend a new state flag hoisted the five final designs on Tuesday to see how the flags look fluttering in the breeze, or hanging limply without any wind. They are conducting the exercise before choosing a winner because flags look different high on a pole than they do as drawings on a computer screen.
In late June, Mississippi legislators voted to retire the last state flag to include the Confederate battle emblem, which has been broadly condemned as racist. The change came amid widespread national protests over racial injustice after Minneapolis police killed a Black man, George Floyd, in their custody in May.
Leaders from business, religion, education and sports — including, crucially, the Southeastern Conference — lobbied legislators to furl Mississippi’s 126-year-old flag, saying that the banner did not properly represent a state with a 38% Black population.
The law shelving the flag specified that a new banner cannot include the Confederate emblem and must have the phrase, “In God We Trust.”
The law also created a nine-member commission to recommend a new flag. The general public submitted nearly 3,000 design proposals, and the commission last week narrowed that to the final five: a shield with wavy lines representing water; the Mississippi River snaking along the state’s western border, plus a magnolia blossom; two others with magnolia blossoms; and one with a stylized magnolia tree. Each has a star made of diamond shapes that are important to the state’s Choctaw culture.
The five designs were manufactured into flags. The commission will choose a final design next week that will appear on the Nov. 3 ballot. If voters accept the design, it will become the new state flag. If they reject it, the design process will begin again, with another proposal going to the ballot later.