Magnolias and stars. Crosses and guitars. Beer cans and crayfish. A lighthouse on the US Gulf Coast. Or how about Elvis Presley and Kermit the frog? These are all suggestions for the new Mississippi flag that citizens have submitted.
The United States recently abolished its banner and coat of arms of the former Confederate Army, which fought against the northern states in the Southern War of Secession between 1861 and 1865 and, above all, struggled to abolish slavery. Now a nine-member commission is to help design a new flag motif – with two editions: the confederate symbol is taboo and the motto “We trust in God” must appear somewhere.
Suggestions from the population
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Almost 2,700 suggestions came from the general public and were only posted on the Mississippi Archives and History Agency website on Monday. By the beginning of September, members of the committee should then agree on a motive and put it to the vote for the US election on November 3. The commission can choose one of the suggestions from the public, combine elements from different designs or start all over again and create a new motif.
African American George Floyd is killed in a brutal police operation in Minneapolis. As a result, people all over the US rise up to demonstrate against racism and police violence – like here in New York, where thousands protested on their bikes. @ Quelle: imago images/ZUMA Wire
The expert Clay Mass advised the panel members last week that the best flag motif should be simple but at the same time distinctive. He used the flag of Texas as a good example: The so-called “Lone Star” design is easy to draw and easy to recognize.
In 2001 the southern symbol was confirmed
Some of the motivational ideas of citizens are actually kept quite simple. Others are more complex, have curlicues, many stripes and are decorated with ivy, eagles, ducks, mockingbirds, deer, bees and fish. Some have a professional appearance, others have been drawn with a pencil or felt pen. Some senders protested against the requirement that a religious statement be read on the flag.
Mississippi had had the previous flag with the Confederate symbol since 1894. At that time, it was set by supporters of an alleged superiority of the whites – in a time of resistance to political influence, the blacks in the “reconstruction” phase of reconstruction and the state reorganization after won the civil war.
In 2001, Mississippi citizens chose to keep the flag, but the southern symbol remained highly controversial in a country where the black population was 38 percent.
Dynamism in the debate by George Floyd
For decades, top politicians from the Mississippi Parliament have said that they did not agree to change the flag motif in either the House of Representatives or the State Senate. Republican governor Tate Reeves, elected in 2019, said before taking office that if the flag comes under scrutiny, this should be done in another election.
For eight years now, all eight Mississippi public universities and an increasing number of cities and districts have not raised the flag.
The sensational killing of George Floyd, a black man whom a white official in Minneapolis had held his knee for several minutes at the end of May, brought new dynamism to the debate. The case sparked protests against racism worldwide and promoted settlement with the culture of remembrance and the symbolism of the Confederates.
Within weeks, top business, church, and education officials urged Mississippi MPs to break the flag and replace it with a more conciliatory motive.
Two-thirds majority for the advance
Two college sports organizations use their power as a lever: The so-called Southeastern Conference threatens to stop league championships in Mississippi if the state does not change its flag. And the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced that Mississippi could not host sports programs it organized.
Governor Reeves finally buckled and signed a law that sent the previous flag on the old part. Previously, a two-thirds majority for the advance had clearly emerged in the Mississippi House of Representatives, with which a veto by the governor could have been undone anyway.
If the voters accept the Commission’s proposal, the state will have a new flag. If not, the committee members prepare a draft that will be voted on at a later date.