A new standard was hoisted up several flagpoles in Mississippi Wednesday, after voters approved a new design for the state flag featuring a magnolia to replace the previous state banner, which was the last in the country to still feature the battle flag of the Confederacy.
According to the Associated Press, election results reported Wednesday showed that the people of Mississippi vastly supported a referendum to use the new magnolia design, with 70% of voters opting to approve it.
It marks a notable change in public opinion about the previous state flag—in 2001, Mississippi voters cast ballots to keep the old Confederate design by nearly the same margin, according to a New York Times report.
Besides an image of a magnolia, the state flower, the flag also features a design of 21 stars that represent Mississippi and the states that became part of the union before it, along with the phrase “In God We Trust,” which also appears on the state seal adopted in 2014.
It replaces the previous flag featuring the Confederate battle emblem that flew over the state for 126 years and was finally retired over the summer, after nationwide protests for racial justice sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The flag will be reportedly be hoisted up statewide once the state legislature officially acknowledges it during the next session, which starts next year.
“At the University of Mississippi, we are very proud to unfurl the new flag representing a new day for the State of Mississippi,” Ole Miss Chancellor Glenn F. Boyce said in a statement. “This flag promotes qualities that unite all Mississippians and embraces the rich diversity of our state.”
The nationwide reckoning with racism after Floyd’s brutal death in police custody brought increased scrutiny to monuments and symbols of the Confederate States of America still on display across the South. Many monuments were taken down (by both protesters and officials) while the Mississippi state legislature began the process of replacing the state flag. A state commission chose the magnolia design that the voters later approved. According to a report from NBC, four other states’ flags still contain references to the Confederacy: Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Arkansas. Mississippi was the only state to use the Confederate battle emblem, which may be the Confederacy’s most recognizable symbol.
Mississippi’s new magnolia flag starting to fly after vote (Associated Press)