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The state's flag previously featured the Confederate battle flag, widely considered a racist symbol. It was retired in June after nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd renewed calls to replace it.
After sifting through more than 2,000 submissions, the nine commissioners tasked with choosing a design for Mississippi’s new state flag have whittled the field to nine options.
The remaining contenders include flags that feature magnolias and magnolia trees, squiggly lines representing the Mississippi River, and arcs of 20 stars, signifying Mississippi’s status as the 20th state to join the Union.
The Commission to Redesign the Mississippi State Flag met Friday to select five finalists, but delayed the vote until Tuesday after eliminating a number of designs and then changing or combining elements of others—making a magnolia smaller, for example, or enhancing a shade of blue—to arrive at the last nine. Those actions are permissible under the rules of the commission, which allow members to accept a submission as is, combine parts of different designs or draw their own flag from scratch.
The selection process for a new state flag began in Mississippi in late June, when the death of George Floyd sparked nationwide protests and renewed calls for the old design—featuring the symbol of the Confederate battle flag, widely condemned as racist—to be retired. On Saturday, June 27, as protests continued, Gov. Tate Reeves said that if lawmakers could pass a bill addressing the flag design by Monday, he would sign it into law.
The resulting legislation, enacted on June 30, required that the newly established flag commission present a final design for the next state banner no later than Sept. 14. Per the bill, the new design must include the words “In God We Trust,” and cannot incorporate the Confederate battle emblem. The winning design will be placed on the ballot in November; if voters don’t approve it, the process begins again.
The commission sought flag designs from the public and received more than 2,000 submissions, ranging from hand-drawn designs on sheets of paper to a large mosquito ringed in stars that briefly, and accidentally, made it to the finals.
Thomas Rosete, the designer of the mosquito flag, told the Clarion Ledger he submitted it as a joke, but then admitted to some disappointment when he was taken out of the running. Still, he said, the important thing is that the state is embracing a new design for its flag.
“I’m just glad we’re moving forward. I don’t think they can go wrong," he said.
Commissioners selected 147 finalists and then ranked their individual top 10 favorites. They met Friday with the goal of selecting five final designs, but instead settled on nine and delayed the vote until next week.
The remaining designs will be displayed in an online gallery on the website for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, provided their creators sign an intellectual property release, according to Katie Blount, the department’s director.
Kate Elizabeth Queram is a staff correspondent with Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.
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