New Grassroots Group Promotes Stennis Design as Official Mississippi Flag
A nonpartisan group of citizens and business leaders named Stennis Flag Flyers has launched a website and social media campaign promoting the adoption of what’s commonly known as the “Stennis design” as Mississippi’s official flag.
The grassroots group includes Republicans, Democrats, and Independents and is based in Bay St. Louis and Waveland on the Gulf Coast. Members plan to partner with individuals and organizations across the state to help raise awareness about the Stennis design and encourage its adoption by the Legislature. The website, www.stennisflagflyers.com, went live November 1st.
The Stennis flag design was created in 2014 by noted Mississippi artist, Laurin Stennis, granddaughter of the late Senator John C. Stennis (namesake of Stennis Space Center in Hancock County). John Stennis served in the Senate for more than 41 years, retiring in 1989.
The Stennis flag design is packed with symbolism, according to creator Laurin Stennis. At the design’s center is one large blue star, circled by 19 smaller ones, representing Mississippi’s place as the 20th state to join the union (1817). The circular shape “symbolizes wholeness and continuity and is also drawn from artifacts of indigenous peoples to our region, particularly, the Choctaw Nation.”
The design is bookended by two bars of red, which “stand in opposition, recognizing the passionate differences we sometimes harbor, as well as in honor of those who have given their lives in pursuit of liberty and justice for all.”
Recognition and support of the Stennis design have been building, especially over the past year. Several prominent state leaders have endorsed adopting a new symbol. The current flag, adopted in 1894, incorporates a Confederate battle flag, the last state flag in the United States to do so.
According to the website of Stennis Flag Flyers (SFF), the group’s goal is to “make the choice for an official new symbol an obvious one when the Legislature is ready to make the change. We believe the sooner the change comes, the faster the state will reap the benefits.
“In the meantime, hundreds, or even thousands, of citizens across the state flying the Stennis flag will send a positive message to those considering moving to or establishing a business in Mississippi. That message is this: while our citizens take pride in our sense of place, we also embrace a forward-thinking future.”
Stennis Flag Flyers is the brain-child of retired Bay St. Louis businessman Chris Roth. Roth says he believes that the Stennis design is one that the state’s diverse population can unite behind.
“We believe that an official state symbol that promotes harmony, rather than divisiveness can help advance the quality of life and economic standing of our citizens,” said Roth. “The Stennis design fits the bill. It’s beautiful and also possesses well-considered symbology that honors our past, while looking to the future.”
Chris Roth says that to become a Stennis Flag Flyer, one has only to fly one. Even displaying a sticker gets one “in the club.” The website and Facebook page both have galleries where new “members” can send in photos of their flags unfurled.
“We’re taking our mission of raising awareness of the Stennis design seriously, but approaching it in an upbeat, positive manner,” Roth said.
Neither the group nor Laurin Stennis is profiting from the sale of any flag. The website links to a Mississippi-owned source where people can order various sized flags, as well as Stennis flag stickers.
For more information, go to: www.stennisflagflyers.com