And With Enough Support, It Could Be
January 15, 2018
Magnolia State Live
When Laurin Stennis moved back to Mississippi after 16 years away, she felt the repatriate’s urge to display her home state pride.
Naturally, she says, she wanted to include the state flag.
“But I couldn’t,” she says. “I wouldn’t. Not as it is. And frankly, I thought: This is ridiculous.”
She’s far from the only one to feel that way about the current state flag, the only one in the nation still displaying a Confederate emblem.
But Stennis has a tool most others don’t: She’s an artist. So she began a study of flags and became something of an expert. Eventually, the prospect of a just-as-bad replacement spurred her to action.
“When I learned that the ‘Magnolia Flag,’ the only other design you ever hear anyone ever mention as a serious contender, was never actually an official flag of our state but was the official flag of secession of the Republic of Mississippi, commissioned and adopted in 1861, I was, like, ‘That’s it. I’m getting out my crayons.’”
Roughly four years later, the result is a flag design that is gaining support – and display – around the state.
Flanked by red bars, the white center features 19 small blue stars around a larger 20th, representing Mississippi’s status as the 20th state. A website, declaremississippi.com, offers more information and merchandise and, of course, there’s a Facebook page, Mississippi: I Declare.
“To me, that is true small-‘d’ democracy in action,” Stennis said. “It’s absolutely how it should happen.”
Of course for anything to happen officially, the Legislature has to act. Barring additional bills on Monday, the Mississippi House has four measures calling for a new flag. One proposes that secessionist Magnolia Flag not as a replacement, but an addition – which would give the state two Confederate symbols. One proposes the design soundly rejected by voters in the 2001 statewide referendum.
And two, HB 316 and HB 702, propose what has come to be known as the Stennis flag.
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