A New Flag for Mississippi?

Posted by on Jan 30, 2019 in Current Events
Satellite image of Mississippi

Satellite image of Mississippi
Credit: Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center/USGS

Mississippi’s state flag has long been a source of controversy. Why? Mississippi’s is the only U.S. state flag that still incorporates an image of the Confederate battle flag. (Georgia’s originally contained the Confederate flag as well, but the state adopted a new design in 2003.)

While some argue that the flag honors the state’s history, others point out that the flag is racially insensitive, especially for the state with the largest percentage of African Americans. Now, groups of citizens and business leaders have come forward to propose an updated design.

A Little History

The current Mississippi state flag was adopted in 1894. In April 2001, there was a referendum for a new flag design, but the vote failed, and the Mississippi state legislature voted to readopt the original design. However, since then, opposition to the flag has continued to grow. Many believe that the Confederate imagery contained in the flag gives symbolic support to white supremacy. Since 2015, when nine black worshippers were shot to death in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, the controversy surrounding the Mississippi flag has become more intense than ever.

Moving Forward

Now, a nonpartisan group of citizens and business owners have started a Web site and social media campaign to raise awareness of a new flag design, called the “Stennis design.” The group hopes to encourage Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike to fly the Stennis flag, working toward their ultimate goal of getting the new design adopted by the state legislature. The group believes that the new flag honors the past, while also promoting unity rather than divisiveness. Supporters of the new design believe that this is a flag people of all races and political parties can stand behind and be proud of. They also say that the new flag will help with the state’s economic development efforts, as businesses currently are reluctant to come to a state that still flies the Confederate flag.

What Does It Look Like?

The new design was created by Mississippi artist Laurin Stennis in 2014. Stennis is the granddaughter of John C. Stennis, a longtime Senator from Mississippi. The flag’s design is artistic as well as symbolic. One large blue star at the center, surrounded by 19 smaller blue stars, represents Mississippi’s place as the 20th state to join the union. The large circle also symbolizes unity, as well as being an homage to artifacts from local indigenous peoples, particularly the Choctaw Nation. A red bar on each end of the flag represents opposing viewpoints and differences, as well as honoring the state’s military veterans.

While opponents argue that changing the flag will not change the state’s history, others say that having a flag that all citizens of Mississippi can be proud of is an important step in the right direction.

What Do You Think? Some believe that Mississippi’s original flag design should be preserved because it honors the state’s history. Others find the flag offensive and believe it should be changed. What do you think? Why? Remember to be respectful with your answer.