After 126 years of the flying the same flag, the state of Mississippi is ushering in a new era in symbolism. On January 11, 2021, Governor Tate Reeves signed a law proclaiming a new flag to be the official emblem of Mississippi, replacing the problematic Confederate-themed flag that had flown over the state since 1894.

Following widespread protests against racial inequality this past summer, the Mississippi state legislature voted to retire the controversial banner in July of 2020. However, this posed a new question: what would the new Mississippi flag be? Seeking an answer to this inquiry, state officials urged Mississippians to send in their design ideas. Roughly 3,000 entries were submitted by the public and reviewed by a committee. In November of 2020, the committee declared their winner, a banner prominently displaying the phrase, “In God We Trust.” However, this new emblem still had a long way to go before it was hoisted up flagpoles across the state.

The new design first had to be accepted by the people of Mississippi, appearing on the November ballot for the public’s approval or disproval. Election officials estimate that over 71% of voters who voiced their opinion of the proposed flag approved. The last step in the process was ratification by the state’s governor. Immediately following ratification, a flag-raising ceremony was held outside Mississippi’s capitol building on the morning of January 11, an event attended by over 100 people despite near-freezing temperatures.

The symbolism featured on the new flag highlights many key aspects of Mississippi’s unique identity. Of course, the motto “In God We Trust” pays homage to the state’s deep roots in Christianity. A magnolia, the official flower of Mississippi, represents hospitality, and twenty white stars celebrate Mississippi’s role as the 20th state to gain admission into the Union. A single gold star honors the state’s Native American heritage.

Of the new flag, Governor Reeves stated, “We commit our former flag to history, and we commit ourselves to the business of the future. It is one small effort to unify, but it is done in good faith.”

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