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State flag design to remain as bills die in committee

Courtesy of TeleSouth Communication Inc.

Prior to the start of the 2018 legislative session, many expected lawmakers to place their focus on a potential redesign of the Mississippi state flag. That discussion has abruptly ended as multiple bills aiming to alter the design have died in committee after Tuesday’s deadline for bills to be brought up in the committee stage.

One of those bills, introduced by Rep. Greg Snowden (R) would’ve added a second state flag instead of changing the current design. The additional state flag would have featured the magnolia design which was the official state flag from 1861- 1865. The current state flag and the additional design would have been equally recognized, according to the bill.

“that each of the designs of the official flag will be of equal status and dignity in representing the state of Mississippi, and each design may be flown individually as the official flag, or they may be flown together; and for related purposes.”

Rep. Kathy Sykes (D) introduced a bill that would’ve changed the design to feature 19 small stars circled around a 20th star, which would represent Mississippi joining the United States as its 20th state.

On a field ten (10) units high by fifteen (15) units wide, vertical bars at the hoist and fly, in Old Glory Red (Pantone red 193C), three (3) units wide, flank a central panel in white.  Centered in the panel, a large five-pointed star in Old Glory Blue (Pantone blue 282C), inscribed within an imaginary circle four and seventy-five hundredths (4.75) units in diameter, is surrounded by nineteen (19) small five-pointed stars in Old Glory Blue (Pantone blue 282C), each with a diameter of seven-tenths (0.7) unit and oriented point-upwards, equally spaced with their centers on an imaginary circle six and nine-tenths (6.9) units in diameter and one (1) star at the top of the circle.

 “The small stars represent the first nineteen (19) states admitted to the United States, and the center star represents the State of Mississippi as the twentieth state to join the Union. The small stars form a circle, a shape that represents wholeness, unity and potential.  The red bars stand opposite of one another, recognizing the passionate differences that the people of our state sometimes harbor.  Joining all of the elements is a field of white symbolizing illumination, spirituality, brightness and promise.”

HB 503 and HB 702 were similar bills introduced Rep. Willie Perkins (D) and Rep. Sonya Barnes (D) respectively, featuring the 20-star design.

HB 1263 was authored by Rep. Christopher Bell (D) and sought to establish a committee to oversee the redesign of the flag without the Confederate battle emblem.

“To establish a commission to redesign the Mississippi state flag; to prescribe the membership of the commission and to provide for its organization and meetings; to provide that the redesigned Mississippi state flag adopted by the commission shall not include the design of the Confederate battle flag.”

Seven other bills were introduced that aimed to create a similar commission for the redesign of the flag. Six of those bills originated in the House and one was in the Senate. One Senate bill was introduced to change the design. SB 2887 was authored by Derrick Simmons (D) would change the design of the flag to the “Stennis Design” which is a variation of the 20-star design.

“The official flag of the State of Mississippi, which is known as the “Stennis Flag,” shall have the following design:(a)  Nineteen (19) stars forming a circle around a larger center star, which represents Mississippi as the twentieth state to join the Union in 1817.(b)  The centering of the blue star on the field of white is an inverted “Bonnie Blue,” which is a reference to the state’s Secession (1861-1865).(c)  The red bars on the fly side and on the staff side stand in opposition recognizing the passionate differences we sometimes harbor as well as in honor of those who have given their lives in pursuit of liberty and justice for all.”

The current flag design, which features the controversial Confederate symbol, was adopted in 1894 and voted on by the people of Mississippi in 2001 to remain unchanged.

The result of the vote showed 64 percent of Mississippians were in favor of keeping the current design, but the conversation surrounding the flag has resurfaced and intensified in the past few years.

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