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Commission selects New Magnolia Flag...

Commission selects New Magnolia Flag for voters to consider in November

By: Sarah Ulmer - September 2, 2020

The November ballot will present the New Magnolia Flag as the option for Mississippi’s new state flag. It beat out the Great River flag, with commissioners voting 8-1 to advance the design for voter consideration.

The Commission to redesign the Mississippi State Flag met on Wednesday, September 2nd to select the state flag design. A motion was made just before the vote came in to change the name of whichever flag that was selected to the “In God We Trust” flag moving forward.

The motion was ratified by the commission.

“We’ve been on the bottom all of my lifetime, but my children and grandchildren will see us ascend and it will happen because of what you have done to bring this great object to the people of Mississippi to vote on,” said Chairman of the Commission Dr. Reuben Anderson.

He expressed his satisfaction that the commissioners chose the flag with a magnolia flower depicted. He said this flag will be a message to all of America that Mississippi is open for business, and that the state is living in the future and not in the past.

Anderson seemed confident that this design would be ratified through the ballot process in November. The design requires a majority vote of the qualified electors to pass. In the event it is not approved by voters, the process will begin all over again, per the legislation establishing the work of the commission.

Minor modifications were made to the flag design since the last meeting of the commission to make it more appropriate for printing. Some of those changes included spacing between stars and bolder font for the words “In God We Trust.”

Vexillogolist Clay Moss walked the commission through why certain changes were made, many of which were because certain design elements would not show up on smaller flags.

Commissioners decided to go back to the former Serif font that was initially used, but make it bolder and adjust the color of the yellow stripes to something more gold and less bright.

This design first began to take shape in 2013, said Ackerman native and flag designer, Rocky Vaughan. The idea came to him after he was struck by the need for Mississippi to reshape its image. He said while watching the news one day, the state flag was mentioned as a discussion over racial unrest was taking place.

Once the resolution to design a new flag was passed, Vaughan said he made the appropriate adjustments, like adding “In God We Trust,” and submitted the design with many different color patterns to choose from.

Designer Sue Anne Joe of Greenwood also contributed the current magnolia design that is on the finalized flag, and Kara Giles, an artist contracted by the Commission, was able to make appropriate changes to the design before its final form.

While some members were leaning toward postponing the vote of the commission and conducting an official public poll of registered Mississippi voters, it seemed the timeframe necessary to do so would not suffice. According to Katie Blount, Director of the Department of Archives and History, the Secretary of State’s office gave her a hard deadline of September 2nd to have the flag design chosen in order to get it on the November ballot.

“It’s been a thrill for the Department of Archives and History to participate in this historic process. The commissioners worked really hard, you could see they dug in, they listened to the public, they listened to the experts. They thought long and hard before making their choices,” said Blount.

Blount said the resolution, signed by all commissioners, has been sent to the Governor, Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House and Secretary of State. They will next send a digital file of the flag to the Secretary of State’s office so they can begin preparing ballots to be printed.

Also in attendance were members of the “Let Mississippi Vote.” This group has filed a ballot initiative regarding the selection of the state flag that would offer four flags for people to choose between on a future ballot. The grassroots effort started by Dan Carr and State Senator Chris McDaniel believe that Mississippians should have the right to decide their flag.

They propose that the 1894 flag that was recently removed, the bicentennial flag with the state seal, the choice presented by the Flag Commission, and the Stennis, or Hospitality Flag be presented on the ballot.

One of the representatives from the all-volunteer group, Lauren Smith, who is also the ballot initiative sponsor, spoke to the press after the commission adjourned.

“It is a beautiful flag. I’m very glad to see ‘In God We Trust’ on it,” said Smith. “There’s also a lot of people that are in opposition to the way the flag was taken down. It wasn’t fair to the people of Mississippi who are in favor of a change. I personally know people who do want to see the flag changed, but it’s also important to them that they get a say so in what flag flies over us.”

She said the group’s sole stance is that the people of Mississippi be the ones to have the authority to change the flag. The flag of 1894 was originally selected by the Legislature. It was not until 2001 that Mississippians were given the right to vote on whether or not to keep it.

This initiative will not make the cut to be present on the 2020 ballot. Smith said the group does not intend to campaign against the referendum happening this year.

Mississippians will head to the polls on November 3rd to vote on the flag. They will also have a chance to vote on local, statewide and national seats, as well as ballot initiatives for the legalization of medical marijuana in the state.

You can watch the full meeting below: 


About the Author(s)
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Sarah Ulmer

Sarah is a Mississippi native, born and raised in Madison. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where she studied Communications, with an emphasis in Broadcasting and Journalism. Sarah’s experience spans multiple mediums, including extensive videography with both at home and overseas, broadcasting daily news, and hosting a live radio show. In 2017, Sarah became a member of the Capitol Press Corp in Mississippi and has faithfully covered the decisions being made by leaders on some of the most important issues facing our state. Email Sarah: