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Mississippi voters on Tuesday will adopt or reject the “In God We Trust” state flag, a design with a magnolia blossom instead of the Confederate battle emblem that flew over the state for the last 126 years.
An appointed commission reviewed thousands of public submissions for flag designs over the summer and chose the new design with a magnolia and stars — a combination of multiple submissions.
The Legislature in June, after decades of debate and under mounting pressure from religious, business, sports and community leaders, removed the 1894 flag with its divisive Confederate emblem. It left ratification of a replacement up to voters.
The new design before voters has a magnolia — the official state tree and flower — blossom on a blue background surrounded by stars with gold and red vertical stripes on the ends. It has one prominent star made of diamonds, representing Native Americans who first inhabited the area, and a ring of smaller stars denoting Mississippi becoming the 20th state in 1817.
The Legislature, when it voted to remove the old flag, stipulated in law that whatever design is put before voters, it must have the words “In God We Trust” on it, and that it could not have the Confederate emblem.
If a majority of voters do not approve the new flag on Tuesday, the redesign commission will go back to the drawing board and pick another design to put before voters next year.
One group, Let Mississippi Vote, hopes to overturn the Legislature’s removal of the old flag. It plans to mount a petition drive to place on the ballot — as early as 2022 — an initiative that would allow voters to restore the 1894 flag, or select other options including the one on the ballot Tuesday. The group said it plans to have people at polls on Tuesday collecting names and information for its drive.