In news that would have been better suited to a late 19th century dateline, Mississippi is finally getting a new flag.
This past June, in the midst of the worldwide protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd, legislators from the state voted to retire the design that has endured for nearly 130 years, featuring a confederate insignia.
A commission was established to oversee the development of a new flag. The public submitted more than 3,000 designs, which the committee narrowed down to nine favorites. They put them to a nonbinding poll to see which were the most popular, drawing more than 48,000 responses—and yesterday trimmed the pool down to five final contenders.
After they select one design from among them on Sept. 2, it will appear on the ballot in November—and if it wins, it’ll fly high. If not, the commission will go back to the drawing board.
The legislation that nixed the old flag came with two explicit rules: It must be devoid of any Confederate imagery, and must contain the phrase “In God We Trust.” Four of the five contenders invoke Mississippi’s state flower, the magnolia, and feature different assemblages of 20 stars, as a nod to Mississippi becoming the 20th state. The outlier design, dubbed The Great River Flag, is a shield inspired by Mississippi’s 1798 territorial seal and features water iconography to pay tribute to the Mississippi River, and columns of vertical lines in threes, signifying the Spanish, French and British, who all claimed the land at one point in time. A star made of diamonds on all the flags pays homage to the state’s Choctaw Nation and other indigenous cultures.
Next up for the flags: another public poll, followed by a test drive on the pole outside the capitol building.
Which would you vote for?