A new Mississippi state flag design was chosen on Wednesday, two months after state legislators voted to remove the Confederate battle emblem.
An appointed state commission voted Wednesday 8 to 1 for “The New Magnolia” flag over “The Great River Flag.”
The “The New Magnolia” flag will go before voters in November for approval. The Commission to Redesign the Mississippi State Flag also agreed on Wednesday to brand the flag “The In God We Trust” flag.
“The New Magnolia,” designed by Rocky Vaughan, “is anchored in the center field by a clean and modern Magnolia blossom, a symbol long-used to represent our state 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 and rebirth, as the Magnolia often blooms more than once and has a long blooming season. The New Magnolia is sleek and updated to represent the forward progression of Mississippi,” according to the department.
Sixty percent of people who partook in an online poll also favored “The New Magnolia” flag.
The Commission to Redesign the Mississippi State Flag on Wednesday discussed putting both finalist flags on the ballot, but it was determined they would need to vote immediately if any flag was going to be presented to the voters in November.
If voters reject the selected new design, the state commission will try again for a new flag that would be presented to the legislature during the 2021 session.
“The New Magnolia” and the “The Great River Flag,” were among five finalists that were unveiled late last month and which were chosen from nearly 3,000 designs submitted by the public.
“The Great River Flag,” designed by Micah Whitson, featured “a shield based on the 1798 seal of the Mississippi Territory below a five-point star on a blue banner,” according to the state archives department.
The legislature voted in June to change the flag that had flown for over 120 years by removing the Confederate battle emblem.
The approved bill called for a flag redesign that eliminated the Confederate symbol but kept the slogan “In God We Trust.” The bill was passed as Confederate monuments were being removed around the country and amid nationwide protests sparked by George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis.
Mississippi was the last state in the nation with a flag featuring the Confederate emblem.
Among those that called for the flag change was the Mississippi Baptist Convention, which has over 500,000 members at more than 2,100 churches.
And, the NCAA’s Southeastern Conference warned that it could bar SEC championship games from being held in the state if the Confederate emblem was not removed.
Gov. Tate Reeves, who approved the bill for a flag redesign after previously saying the matter should go before voters, said at the time that the state would still need to bring residents together in support.
“We should not be under any illusion that a vote in the Capitol is the end of what must be done — the job before us to bring the state together and I intend to work night and day to do it,” Reeves said as the legislature weighed the matter in late June. “We must find a way to come together. To heal our wounds, to forgive, to resolve that a page has been turned, to trust each other. With God’s help, we can.”