Mississippi voters will decide in November whether to accept a new state flag design with a magnolia and “In God We Trust” emblazoned on the banner.
A commission voted 8-1 Wednesday to recommend the magnolia flag over one other final design that featured a shield with wavy lines representing water.
“We’ll send a message that we live in the future and not in the past,” former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson, the flag commission chairman, said after the vote.
The single design will go on the November ballot. If voters accept the design, it will become the new state flag. If they reject it, the design process will start anew — and Mississippi will remain a state without a flag for a while longer.
The new flag design effort is part of a move to replace Mississippi’s former flag, which legislators retired under pressure because it included the Confederate battle emblem.
The commission decided Wednesday that leading to the November election, it will promote the magnolia flag by calling it the “In God We Trust” flag.
“More than any other time in our country, we need the mercy and grace of God,” said commission member T.J. Taylor, an attorney and policy director for the state House speaker.
Legislators shelved the Confederate-themed flag in June against the backdrop of widespread protests over racial injustice. The flag had been divisive for decades in a state with a 38% Black population. The final push for change came from business, education, religious and sports groups — including, notably, the Mississippi Baptist Convention and the Southeastern Conference.
By law, the new flag cannot include the Confederate battle flag, and it must have the phrase, “In God We Trust.” Requiring the religious phrase on the new flag helped persuade some conservative legislators to retire the old one.
The public submitted nearly 3,000 designs. The commission — with members appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker — narrowed the choices to the final two last week.
Creators of the final designs said their work reflects a love for Mississippi and a desire for a banner that a wide range of people can fly with pride.
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