Officials in Mississippi have chosen a new design for the state’s flag to replace the former motif featuring the Confederate battle emblem. Residents will vote on the new one, which depicts the state flower, a magnolia, on November 3.
A nine-person commission was tasked with narrowing down 3,000 submissions — including one with a— from the public. Over 75,000 people voted on their preference, according to Judge Reuben Anderson, president of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History Board of Trustees.
Anderson, who was the first African American to serve on the Mississippi Supreme Court, and chaired the commission, said in a speech Thursday that he was amazed by the public response to the new design. “There was 75,000 people who felt enough interest in this flag to vote for it, and I think that’s amazing,” he said.
“I grew up in Mississippi in the ’40s and ’50s, and all of my life Mississippi has been at the bottom, 50th, in whatever category you can think of,” Anderson said. “Whether income, health care, education, we’ve always been on the bottom. On November 3, I think that’ll start to change.”
The former flag faced renewed backlash this year as many people decried the Confederate emblem as a symbol of racism and white supremacy.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves signed a bill on July 1 toand present it to the Department of Archives and History. The state’s Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann and House Speaker Philip Gunn presented the retired flag to the MDHA that same day.
Anderson said Thursday that with the flag’s removal, Mississippi can now “ascend” from the bottom.
“I can assure you we will move. And how in the world is it that Mississippi could be on the bottom with all of the tremendous assets and resources that we have?” he said. “We have the greatest people, the most talented and gifted people, the greatest poets and authors and musicians. We are the birthplace of America’s music. We have the most fertile soil. Everything will grow in Mississippi. From cotton, to watermelons, to catfish — it’ll grow here. We have timber and oil and gas, the Mississippi River and 90 miles of beaches.”
“There’s no reason for us to be on the bottom,” he said. “We will be on the bottom all of my lifetime, but my children and grandchildren will see us ascend, and it’ll happen because of what you have done to bring this great object to the people of Mississippi to vote on.”
If voters accept the magnolia design on November 3, it will become the new state flag; if they reject it, the commission will regroup to find a new design to go on the ballot at a later date, CBS News’ Jackson affiliate reports.