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: 319948

Reported Deaths: 7371
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22285267
Hinds20719421
Harrison18431317
Rankin13901282
Jackson13718248
Madison10263224
Lee10059176
Jones8467167
Forrest7832153
Lauderdale7261242
Lowndes6517150
Lamar635188
Lafayette6313121
Washington5425137
Bolivar4841133
Panola4670110
Oktibbeha466198
Pearl River4605147
Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425873
Monroe4157135
Union415777
Neshoba4063179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386987
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3371111
Alcorn327272
Scott320374
Yazoo314171
Adams308086
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298589
Tippah291968
Prentiss284161
Leake272074
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264642
Grenada264087
George252251
Newton248663
Tishomingo231868
Winston230181
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190474
Stone188433
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164134
Walthall135347
Greene131834
Lawrence131124
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127238
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108234
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548657

Reported Deaths: 11306
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810031566
Mobile42105831
Madison35690525
Tuscaloosa26173458
Shelby25607254
Montgomery25081614
Baldwin21868314
Lee16278176
Calhoun14719327
Morgan14629285
Etowah14175364
Marshall12453230
Houston10781287
Elmore10293214
Limestone10179157
St. Clair10162251
Cullman9952201
Lauderdale9603250
DeKalb8972190
Talladega8460184
Walker7338280
Autauga7241113
Blount6945139
Jackson6932113
Colbert6413140
Coffee5635127
Dale4928116
Russell454841
Chilton4476116
Franklin431382
Covington4275122
Tallapoosa4138155
Escambia401680
Chambers3728124
Dallas3607158
Clarke353061
Marion3240107
Pike314378
Lawrence3133100
Winston283472
Bibb268564
Geneva257981
Marengo250565
Pickens236962
Barbour234559
Hale227278
Butler224271
Fayette218862
Henry194543
Randolph187544
Cherokee187345
Monroe180041
Washington170539
Macon163051
Clay160059
Crenshaw155957
Cleburne153444
Lamar146837
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124342
Conecuh113630
Coosa111729
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
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