Mississippi is introducing a new flag design to their November ballot to replace their current flag bearing the Confederate battle emblem.
“The New Magnolia” flag, designed by local artist Ricky Vaughan, won out over almost 3,000 submissions from the public and was approved by the Mississippi State Flag Commission on Wednesday.
“What I wanted to do was show every Mississippian that there’s a compromise out there, and we are the magnolia state,” said Vaughan. “If it’s appealing to the eyes, it will be accepted.”
The magnolia blossom is a long-standing symbol of the state of Mississippi and “the hospitality of our citizens,” according to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
“The New Magnolia also represents Mississippi’s sense of hope an rebirth, as the Magnolia often blooms more than once and has a long blooming season.”
The process began in June in the wake of the tragic killing of George Floyd and the racial protests that have followed. Thousands have marched through city streets, statues and monuments with pro-slavery histories have been targeted, and a nationwide conversation about racism in America has been ongoing.
Pressure was placed on Mississippi – the only state to still be bearing the Confederate symbol on its state flag – to change the 126-year-old flag. Most significantly, those calls came from the 500,000 member, 2,100-church strong Mississippi Baptist Convention, and from the NCAA’s Southeastern Conference which threatened to ban SEC championship games from being held in the state if the Confederate symbol remained.
The state legislature voted in June to remove the Confederate symbol, and a commission was formed with the task of designing a new flag that would honor the state’s history and unite Mississippians in a time of unrest.
The new design received a 60% approval in an online poll and has received praise from even those outside of Mississippi. Meghan McCain, daughter of former Senator and 2008 Republican Presidential candidate John McCain, called it a “beautiful and tasteful design”.
The flag is now in the hands of voters to approve or reject come November 3rd. If the flag is rejected, the commission will have to begin again to propose a new design in 2021.