William Paul Ellis | Staff Writer
In addition to voting for the next President of the United States, and for the legalization of medical marijuana, Mississippi Voters were tasked with a referendum that would address the state’s legacy and national perception.
Ballot measure 3, which asked voters if the state legislature should vote to adopt a new flag, passed with 71.4 percent of voters choosing yes.
In 2001, Mississippi voters voted overwhelmingly to keep the state flag; and in 2015, state legislators unsuccessfully proposed a bill that would take state funding away from schools that refused to fly the state flag with the confederate emblem.
The current state flag was adopted in 1894, and as of 2020, is the only state flag that still had the confederate emblem.
While many felt that the flag continued to highlight the state’s role in the country’s history of slavery and segregation, others argued that it prevented the state from growing relationships with outside economic influences. For example, in June, the NCAA announced that no championship game would be played in Mississippi until the state flag was changed.
The Mississippi legislature took the first steps in replacing the flag by passing House Bill 1796, which called for artists to submit proposals for a new flag and the retirement of the current flag.
A task force established by the bill would sort through more than 3,000 flag submissions, before eventually settling on the new “In God We Trust” magnolia flag.
The flag features a large magnolia, the state flower, in the center of a deep blue background. The magnolia is surrounded by 20 white flowers, which represents Mississippi being the 20th state. A single gold star symbolizes the tribes of indigidous people native to Mississippi.
State representative Jeramey Anderson praised the bipartisan effort by his fellow legislators in a statement to CNN.
“This was a bold, bipartisan step that shows the world Mississippi is finally ready to step out from under the cloud of slavery and Jim Crow. But it isn’t the final step,”Anderson said. “Mississippi and the United States remain plagued by systemic racism that keeps people of color from being truly free and equal.”
This measure of progress is an example of the changing culture of the south, as changes are being made that were unthinkable less than two decades ago.