USA

Options for Mississippi's new state flag include magnolia flower, stars or state seal to replace old Confederate design

The state is currently in the process of picking a new state flag after its old one -- which was the last US state flag to feature the Confederate battle flag -- was retired in June.

The Commission to Redesign the Mississippi State Flag on Monday announced that it narrowed down the nearly 3,000 submissions it received to 147 options for a new state flag.

The commission tossed out designs that included guitars, beer cans, Largemouth bass, a Jesus meme and the Southeastern Conference logo.

Now, most of the 147 options feature magnolias -- the state flower -- or stars. The designs are some combination of red, white and blue, though a few choices feature a green background. Some of the flags show the Mississippi state seal depicting an eagle, not unlike the US coat of arms. Other designs include waves, seemingly a nod to the Mississippi River or Gulf Coast.

The new flag design needs to include the phrase "In God, We Trust."

The commission will meet on Friday to decide on the final five flags, which will then be posted for public comment. The final flag will be picked in September so that Mississippi voters can vote on the new design in November.

At the commission's July 28 meeting, chair and former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson said, "We have a challenge before us, but I can assure you of one thing: we are going to design and approve a flag that Mississippi can be proud of."

In a historic move in late June, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill that retired the Mississippi state flag after the state legislature passed the measure, following weeks of racial justice protests across the country.

The Mississippi state flag, first adopted in 1894, had red, white and blue stripes with the Confederate battle flag in the upper left corner.

Critics call the Confederate flag a symbol that represents the war to uphold slavery, while supporters call it a sign of Southern pride and heritage.

In 2001, Mississippians voted overwhelmingly to keep the Confederate emblem on its state flag. Sixty-five percent of voters chose then to keep the 1894 flag with the Confederate symbol instead of adopting a new flag with 20 white stars on a blue field to represent Mississippi's role as the 20th state in the Union.

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