Mississippi approves magnolia emblem to replace Confederate flag

Mississippi approves magnolia emblem to replace Confederate flag
The new flag chosen by voters in Mississippi (Rogelio Solis/AP)

Mississippi will fly a new state flag with a magnolia to replace a Confederate-themed flag state politicians retired months ago as part of the national reckoning over racial injustice.

The new flag, which also bears the phrase “In God We Trust”, was approved by the state’s voters on Tuesday.

The magnolia flag was the only design on the general election ballot, and voters were asked to say yes or no. A majority said yes.

Legislators will have to put the design into law, but they are expected to do that with little fuss since they already accomplished the more challenging task of retiring a flag that some people wanted to keep.

A display stand in Jackson, Mississippi with a number of the recently retired state flags (Rogelio Solis/AP)

Mississippi has been without a flag since late June, when legislators surrendered the last state banner in the US that included the Confederate battle emblem — a red field topped by a blue X with 13 white stars. The rebel flag has been used by Ku Klux Klan groups and is widely condemned as racist.

The new Mississippi flag has the state flower on a dark blue background with red bars on either end. The magnolia is encircled by stars representing Mississippi as the 20th state. The flag also has a single star made of diamond shapes representing the Native American people who lived on the land before others arrived.

White supremacists in the state legislature adopted the Confederate-themed flag in 1894 amid a backlash to the power black people gained after the abolition of slavery.

For decades, the flag was divisive in a state with a significant black population, currently about 38%.

A majority of voters chose to keep the flag in a 2001 election, but several cities and counties and all of Mississippi’s public universities had stopped flying it because of the Confederate symbol.

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