OXFORD • Philip Gunn, the speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, announced on Wednesday that he has appointed Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill to serve on a commission that will select a new state flag design for voter approval.
Tannehill, a Democratic mayor, is thus far the only person from Northeast Mississippi to have been publicly named to the committee.
“Robyn’s background as a businessperson in the marketing industry, and as a community leader in north Mississippi makes her a perfect member of the commission,” Gunn, a Republican from Clinton, said. “She is known for her passion for Mississippi and for having a forward-thinking vision for her community and our state. I’m confident that she will be a vocal and active member of the commission.”
Tannehill in a statement to the Journal said that she is proud of the Legislature for its vote to change the flag, and is grateful to Gunn for allowing her the opportunity to serve on the commission.
“We have the opportunity to find a flag that unifies and represents all of the people of our great state, and a flag that we can all be proud to fly,” Tannehill said. “My hope is that this commission can find a flag that the citizens of our great state can rally around and move forward together. This is an exciting time for the State of Mississippi, and I am humbled to be a part of it.”
Gunn also announced that he is appointing to the commission Mary Graham, the president of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, and TJ Taylor, a staff member to Gunn.
Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann used his appointments to name former state Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson, Vicksburg attorney J. Mack Varner and former Gulf Coast teacher and Secretary of State staffer Sherri Carr Bevis to the commission.
Anderson was the state’s first Black justice on the state Supreme Court.
Gov. Tate Reeves must also appoint three members to the flag commission by the end of Wednesday. He had not done so by early evening.
When asked at a Wednesday afternoon press conference about his appointees, Reeves declined to name his selections and said he was still working to complete his statutory task.
Reeves signed a bill into law last month that retired the state’s former flag that featured the Confederate battle flag and established a flag commission. The commission will be tasked with recommending a new design for the state flag by Sept. 14.
The law gives the commission broad authority on how to choose the flag. The only requirements for the flag are that it cannot contain the Confederate battle emblem and it must include the phrase “In God We Trust.”
Voters in the upcoming November election will either vote to approve or reject the design that the commission recommends. If the design is rejected by a majority of the voters, the commission will then present a new design to voters.