Mississippi approves flag with magnolia, ‘In God We Trust’

“New Magnolia Flag” | The flag commission made some adjustments to the original design, such as widening the gold bars. Designed by Rocky Vaughan, with design support provided by Sue Anna Joe, Kara Giles and Dominique Pugh.

Mississippi voters have approved a new state flag with a magnolia and the phrase “In God We Trust.”

Posted: Nov 4, 2020 11:11 AM
Updated: Nov 4, 2020 11:12 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi will fly a new state flag with a magnolia and the phrase “In God We Trust,” with voters approving the design Tuesday. It replaces a Confederate-themed flag state lawmakers retired months ago as part of the national reckoning over racial injustice.

The magnolia flag was the only design on the general election ballot, and voters were asked to say yes or no. A majority said yes.

Legislators will have to put the design into law, but they are expected to do that with little fuss because they already did the hard work of retiring a flag that some people wanted to keep.

Mississippi has been without a flag since late June, when legislators surrendered the last state banner in the U.S. that included the Confederate battle emblem — a red field topped by a blue X with 13 white stars. The rebel flag has been used by Ku Klux Klan groups and is widely condemned as racist.

The new Mississippi flag has the state flower on a dark blue background with red bars on either end. The magnolia is encircled by stars representing Mississippi as the 20th state. The flag also has a single star made of diamond shapes representing the Native American people who lived on the land before others arrived.

White supremacists in the state Legislature adopted the Confederate-themed flag in 1894 amid backlash to power Black people gained during Reconstruction.

For decades, the flag was divisive in a state with a significant Black population, currently about 38%. A majority of voters chose to keep the flag in a 2001 election, but several cities and counties and all of Mississippi’s public universities had stopped flying it because of the Confederate symbol. Many furled the Mississippi flag after mid-2015, when a white man shot and killed nine Black people worshiping at a church in Charleston, South Carolina; he had previously posed for photos with the rebel flag.

Until this summer, a majority of Mississippi legislators were unwilling to consider changing the flag because they considered the issue too volatile. Momentum changed as protests broke out across the U.S. after a Black man was killed in Minneapolis police custody. The final push for changing the Mississippi flag came from business, education, religious and sports groups — including, notably, the Mississippi Baptist Convention and the Southeastern Conference.

Angela Reginal, 53, of Pearl, said she voted for the new design. Reginal, who is Black, said the Confederate-themed old flag was “part of history,” and although she said it never bothered her, she believed it needed to be changed.

“For me, if it offends my brother, I think it needs to be changed,” said Reginal, who works in the office of a home health agency.

A white voter at the same precinct in Pearl, Beki Routh, said she voted for the new flag but wanted to keep the old one.

“If you try to erase history, you’re doomed to repeat it,” said Routh, 50, a bank employee.

Joan Martin, 79, a retired registered nurse from Picayune, said she voted for the new flag because “I didn’t have any choice.

“There was just the one thing and I thought it looked pretty and it said ‘In God We Trust,’ so I voted yes on it,” said Martin, who is white.

The law retiring the old flag specified that the new one could not include the Confederate battle emblem and must have “In God We Trust.” Requiring the religious phrase helped persuade some conservative legislators to let go of the old flag.

Taderell Lamont Roberts, 48, of Picayune, goes by his middle name, which was on the name patch on his work shirt for Heritage Plastics, where he’s a foreman. He said he voted for the new flag.

“That old flag to me represented a lot of rebelism, you know, the good old boys,” said Roberts, who is Black. “It never bothered me. ... But is time for a different flag so our new generation can see that all that is in the past, and they don’t have to deal with that. We were brought up to just live with it. But I’m glad that now it’s time for a change.”

The public submitted nearly 3,000 flag designs. A nine-person commission — with members appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker — chose the magnolia flag to go on the ballot.

If voters had rejected the magnolia flag, the commission would have designed another flag that still could not include the Confederate symbol and must include “In God We Trust.” That design would have gone on the ballot in November 2021.

Separately, supporters of the old Mississippi flag are starting an initiative that could revive the old flag by putting the Confederate-themed banner and some other designs up for a statewide vote. But they face big hurdles in gathering enough signatures to get their ideas on the ballot, and their efforts could be complicated by limited public interaction during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
Pearl River9707244
Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7204138
Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
Bolivar6440151
Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
Lincoln5525136
George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
Itawamba4829107
Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
Leflore4723144
Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
Wayne442772
Covington432895
Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
Newton395581
Tishomingo381793
Grenada3775109
Stone365666
Jasper340166
Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 844951

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161002006
Mobile741871379
Madison53279732
Shelby38325368
Baldwin38068589
Tuscaloosa36009641
Montgomery34482781
Lee25550263
Calhoun22585518
Morgan22451406
Etowah20013517
Marshall18777316
Houston17727425
St. Clair16875358
Limestone16135218
Cullman16044303
Elmore15904294
Lauderdale14968306
Talladega14189299
DeKalb12967269
Walker12020380
Blount10714192
Autauga10517157
Jackson10157194
Coffee9414192
Colbert9334208
Dale9018191
Tallapoosa7254201
Russell707765
Chilton7018170
Escambia6955143
Covington6932195
Franklin6340108
Chambers5783142
Marion5401130
Dallas5285209
Pike5118109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4780110
Geneva4642136
Bibb434094
Barbour369480
Butler3434100
Marengo342393
Monroe337066
Randolph334367
Pickens333188
Fayette330085
Henry320666
Hale318189
Cherokee317563
Crenshaw260477
Washington256952
Cleburne254460
Lamar251253
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192762
Coosa184947
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152645
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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