A red, gold and blue design featuring a magnolia at its center could be Mississippi’s new flag if voters approve it in November. After reviewing hundreds of possible options, the Mississippi Flag Commission selected the “New Magnolia” design today.
“The New Magnolia flag is anchored in the center field by a clean and modern Magnolia blossom, a symbol long-used to represent our state and the hospitality of our citizens,” the Mississippi Department of Archives and History said in a statement today. “The New Magnolia also represents Mississippi’s sense of hope and rebirth, as the Magnolia often blooms more than once and has a long blooming season. The New Magnolia is sleek and updated to represent the forward progression of Mississippi.”
Artist Rocky Vaughn designed the flag with support from Sue Anna Joe, Kara Giles, Dominique Pugh and Micah Whitson, MSDAH said.
Twenty five-point stars encircle the Magnolia, with one yellow star at the top representing Mississippi’s indingenous peoples. The words “In God We Trust” also appear within the bottom of the star circle.
When Mississippi’s Legislature voted to retire the Confederate themed 1894 state flag over the summer, leaders required the inclusion of “In God We Trust” in order to woo conservative legislators who initially opposed the change.
“Our flag should reflect the beauty and good in all of us. It should represent a state that deserves a positive image,” artist Vaughn said in the MSDAH statement. “The New Magnolia Flag represents the warmth and strength of the good people of Mississippi. Now is the time we show the world that we’re from Mississippi, the Magnolia State.”
The Flag Commission voted 8-to-1 for the final design over the second choice, The Great River flag.
MSDAH explained that the New Magnolia flag’s blue color “echoes the blue of the American flag, representing vigilance, justice, perseverance, while the bands of red represent hardiness and valor.”
“The gold lines and the gold stamen of the New Magnolia are a nod to the rich cultural history of Mississippi, specifically the visual arts, literature, music, and performing arts to originate in our state,” MSDAH said.
Reuben Anderson, who became the first Black member of the Mississippi Supreme Court in 1985, served as the Flag Commission’s chair.
“I grew up in Mississippi in the ’40s and ’50s. And all of my life, Mississippi has been at the bottom, fiftieth, in whatever category you can think of—whether income, health care or education, we’ve always been on the bottom,” Anderson said at the meeting, moments after the vote. “On Nov. 3, I think that’ll start to change. … There’s no reason for us to be on the bottom.
“We will be on the bottom all of my lifetime, but my children and grandchildren will see us ascend, and it’ll happen because of what you have done to bring this great object to the people of Mississippi to vote on.”