Months after introducing the option to change the Mississippi state flag from the divisive Confederate symbol to a new representation of southern pride, voters in The Magnolia State chose a new flag to fly.
The Associated Press (AP) reports that a majority of Mississippi voters chose Tuesday to do away with the symbol of the Confederacy during the U.S. Civil War, a divisive era that pitted states against each other in the battle to abolish slavery.
The new state flag will feature the state’s famous Magnolia flower in a navy blue center, with the phrase “In God We Trust” inscribed beneath the flower. The borders of the new flag are gold and red.
Congratulations to Mississippi on their new flag.
May that change of symbols inspire greater things pic.twitter.com/4ayVB9r9Yp
— Dr. Mansa Keita (@rasmansa) November 4, 2020
It also is crowned with a single star composed of diamond shapes that represent the indigenous Americans native to the state before it was settled.
Mississippi had reportedly been without a flag since late June, amid the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests decrying the lasting effects of slavery and systemic racism in the U.S. Lawmakers retired the flag amid criticism that the flag glorified an era of Black racial oppression.
In present day, the Confederate flag is equated with racism and frequently touted by white supremacists and members of the Ku Klux Klan.
AP notes that the flag was adopted by the state legislature in 1894 by white supremacists in government as a protest against Black advancement during the Reconstruction era following the Civil War.
While momentum to alter the Confederate symbol from the flag was gradual, it came to a peak during the Black Lives Matter protests following the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Nationally, sentiment swelled against Confederate tributes; data from July showcased a majority of 54 percent of Americans supported removing symbols like the Confederate flag and other monuments from public display.
Coupled with pressure from businesses and religious organizations, Mississippi lawmakers finally left the decision to remove the symbol from its flag to voters.
Voter Angela Reginal, 53, told reporters that she voted for the new design to replace the Confederate symbol.
“For me, if it offends my brother, I think it needs to be changed,” she said, noting that the old flag was a “part of history.”
Voters who still want to keep the old flag are reportedly starting a counter initiative to put the Confederate banner and other designs up for another state vote. They will need to gather enough signatures for the proposal to make ballots.
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