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  • For 126 years, this was Mississippi's state flag.

  • A triband of red white and blue .

  • And in the top left corner, a blue X lined with white stars on a red square.

  • This is the Confederate Battle flag.

  • The most recognizable lasting symbol of the American Civil War, a failed four-year campaign

  • of Southern states to preserve slavery in the US.

  • Today, the Confederate battle flag is often used as a symbol of Southern pride.

  • But it's also synonymous with white supremacy.

  • As part of Mississippi's state flag, it flew outside state buildings and hung in the

  • halls of the US Capitol.

  • And for decades, people across the state have fought for its removal.

  • It made us feel like second class citizens. That you can be comfortable flying a flag

  • that represented enslavement of my people. Of my ancestors.

  • Take it down. Take it down.”

  • On November 3rd, 2020, as the US was deciding its next president, a long-awaited special

  • election in Mississippi voted to adopt a new flag.

  • This one.

  • It's called theIn God We Trustflag.

  • The symbols in its design speak to Mississippi's history...

  • ...and its future.

  • Almost immediately after the South lost the Civil War and over 4 million enslaved Black

  • people living there were freed, influential white supremacist groups started a campaign

  • to popularize Confederate imagery.

  • They built memorials, altered history textbooks, and used the flag to honor Confederate veterans.

  • Mainstreaming it as a symbol of Southern heritage and pride.

  • When state legislatures began adopting state flags in the late 1800s and early 1900s,

  • Georgia and Mississippi adapted the first national flag of the Confederacy and the

  • Confederate battle flag, respectively.

  • The Confederate battle emblem has been a prominent feature of Mississippi's flag ever since.

  • While some Mississippians have fought to keep the flag intact, activists, led primarily

  • by Black Southerners, fought to have it removed.

  • My name is Genesis Be.

  • I'm an art-activist from Biloxi, Mississippi.

  • And my fight in this battle to change the Mississippi state flag, you know it definitely

  • started with my ancestors.

  • But in 2001 is the first time I remember it coming to a referendum vote.

  • A 2001 referendum would have changed Mississippi's flag to remove the Confederate battle emblem

  • and introduce a new design.

  • I was like in high school or middle school at the time.

  • And it was divisive because a lot of my friends whose ancestors fought in the Confederate

  • Army, they revered that flag.

  • Some people like myself, saw it as a direct threat to our survival and a direct disrespect

  • to our ancestors.

  • In the referendum, Mississippi voters overwhelmingly chose to keep the old flag.

  • And when Georgia changed its flag from this to this in 2003, Mississippi became the only

  • remaining state flag with the Confederate emblem.

  • This symbol does not represent nearly 40 percent of the population of Mississippi and needs

  • to go.

  • Pressure to change the flag got renewed attention in 2015, when photos began circulating showing

  • white supremacist and mass murderer Dylann Roof, who killed nine people at a historic

  • Black church in South Carolina, holding the Confederate battle flag.

  • Cities and public universities around Mississippi began removing the state flag from public

  • display.

  • I'm Carlos Moore and I'm a lawyer in Greater Mississippi.

  • I'm also municipal judge and Clarksdale, Mississippi.

  • In 2017, my first day on the bench, I took the flag down.

  • I had the flag removed.

  • “A flag that he abhors, and one that has been the subject of fierce debate in the state

  • for decades.”

  • There were counties that removed it from their counties, cities, municipalities, universities,

  • colleges.

  • I believe it took the Emanuel nine to get the conversation started again in earnest.

  • And I believe it took George Floyd to seal the deal.

  • In May of 2020, George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed by police in Minneapolis,

  • Minnesota, sparking widespread protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

  • It was during those protests where all across the world people were forced to look at what's

  • happening and what has happened here in America when it comes to state-sanctioned violence

  • against black people.

  • The conversation has always been: “this symbol represents heritage, not hate.”

  • I saw that conversation change within a week during these protests.

  • In June, mounting pressure following Floyd's murder finally compelled Mississippi legislature

  • to abolish Mississippi's flag, and order it taken down from government buildings.

  • The conversation then shifted to, okay, we understand that this symbol is hate.

  • What are we going to do about it?

  • The state formed a commission to redesign the flag, led by former Mississippi Supreme

  • Court Justice Reuben Anderson.

  • And planned to put the final decision on the ballot in the November election.

  • The commission opened it up to the public to submit designs, with two requirements:

  • add the wordsIn God We Trust,” the official motto of the United States.

  • And remove the Confederate battle emblem.

  • My name is Sue Anna Joe, and I'm a Mississippi native.

  • Sue Anna Joe submitted one of the over 3,000 Mississippi flag redesigns.

  • The guidelines were in fact simple, they wanted the design to be simple.

  • And basically I just took a big sheet of paper, and I drew a bunch of designs to submit to

  • the commission.

  • And the ones that I felt were the strongest, I went to my computer, and I remember having

  • this Illustrator document open and there was just a bunch of different flags littered all

  • over the place.

  • After narrowing it down, this was Sue Anna Joe's final submission.

  • And the magnolia in her design ended up as the centerpiece of the new flag.

  • Which features elements combined from a select few of the submissions the commission received.

  • The elements in the final flag all hold individual significance for Mississippi.

  • The red and blue colors are, in fact, the official colors of the state of Mississippi.

  • And these 20 white stars signify that Mississippi was the 20th state to enter the Union.

  • And this gold star is divided into diamond shapes.

  • That star represents the Choctaw Indian Tribe, the only federally-recognized Native American

  • tribe living in Mississippi.

  • Who frequently make use of diamond shapes in traditional basketry and beadwork.

  • And, of course, the magnolia, Mississippi's state flower and state tree.

  • It symbolizes longevity and perseverance.

  • Magnolias are over 95 million years old, which make them among the earliest plants to exist

  • on Earth.

  • That kind of speaks to the strength of the state, I believe, and the people there.

  • So that's the reason why I chose the Magnolia for my original designs, because I felt like

  • it was such a great reflection of the people in Mississippi.

  • And on November 3rd, 2020, the people of Mississippi agreed, and voted to adopt theIn God We

  • Trustflag, as the new state flag.

  • It was a continuum, it was a relay race.

  • I ran my leg of the race, others ran the leg of the race, and we eventually got it done.

  • It was a huge victory for our ancestors, and the descendants.

  • I felt, wow, my three nieces who haven't graduated yet don't have to walk underneath that flag.

  • Mississippi can begin to move forward now that we've actually acknowledged the past.

For 126 years, this was Mississippi's state flag.

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B2 mississippi flag confederate state symbol battle

The 126-year fight to change Mississippi’s Confederate flag

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/11/14
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