A state’s flag is more than a symbol. It is a way for a state to portray itself to the rest of the nation. Mississippi – who are we? Mississippi has the opportunity to define our unique, diverse, beautiful state on a new flag.
I am so proud of Mississippi’s Legislature for their vote to change our state flag and to move Mississippi forward. Speaker Philip Gunn led the charge on this initiative, and I am grateful to Speaker Gunn for allowing me the opportunity to serve on the Commission to Redesign the Mississippi State Flag. This is an exciting time for the State of Mississippi, and I am humbled to be a part of it.
The Commission has met twice over the past two weeks. We have adopted a plan of work and intend to have a flag selected by September 2nd. This design will be presented to the Legislature and Governor prior to September 14th and will be put to a popular vote in November.
Mississippians of all ages have submitted designs and stories about their proposed flag designs. These designs have come from professional graphic designers and from elementary students. They have come via computer files and on notebook paper. The designs have one thing in common – they are heartfelt, meaningful creations from citizens who love our state. We are thrilled to see our citizens engage in this important process. More than 2,800 designs were submitted by the August 1st deadline. The final five flag designs will be posted on the Mississippi Department of Archives and History website for public viewing once the selections are made. There will be a link provided for public feedback. The Commission will have the final five flag choices produced into actual flags to provide the opportunity to see the designs flying from a flag pole before the final choice is made.
Our last flag was flown for 126 years. This new flag will likely last beyond our lifetime. The Commission feels the weight of this responsibility. History is being made. We heard from Clay Moss, Vexillologist with the MSDAH, who presented great information on design principles to be utilized when designing a flag. Vexillology is the study of flags. Who knew? Not me. He emphasized that the flag should be simple and distinct. The flag should be a design a small child could easily draw. He also shared that no more than two or three colors should be utilized. He emphasized that horizontal designs were typically more effective than vertical stripes and that no seals or coats of arms should be incorporated. Although the basic principles include no text, House Bill 1796 requires the wording “In God We Trust’ to be included in the design. Mr. Moss consulted on ways a good design can accommodate the text required. The Commission will keep these design principles in mind as we begin reviewing proposed flags this week.
My hope is that we find a flag that the citizens of our great state can rally around and move forward with together…a flag we can all be proud to fly.
I have heard many citizens and leaders say that we need and desire a flag that unifies our state. I believe it will take more than a flag to create unity, but it is a good start.