Future of Mississippi’s flag discussed in shadow of state’s birthday

Updated: Dec. 10, 2019 at 8:28 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi turned 202-years-old Tuesday and as folks celebrate the birthday, some are taking the opportunity to say the state’s symbols need an upgrade.

“The state right now just has a logo problem and it’s very easy to fix that,” said local artist Laurin Stennis. That’s why she designed the Stennis Flag.

This year, a bill was passed to allow the flag design on car tags.

“It’s been available since August and it’s already raised over $30,000 dollars for the Museum of Mississippi History and the Civil Rights Museum,” noted Stennis.

As somewhat of a birthday present to the state, she launched a sticker app that features the design and she’s holding onto hope for the upcoming session.

“I wake up every morning with hope that it will happen and happen soon," said Stennis. "I think one thing that has helped is clarifying what is the role of our state flag and is our current state flag doing its job and it’s a resounding no. I think leaders realize that.”

So, let’s review what the leaders-elect have said about the current flag. Governor-elect Tate Reeves said the following during a gubernatorial debate.

“The people of Mississippi voted in 2001 to keep the current flag," said Reeves. "I am personally opposed to unilateral action by the legislature to change the flag. I am opposed to unilateral action by the Governor to change the flag. If the flag needs to be changed and the people of Mississippi decide it needs to be changed, at some point they might, then I think it ought to be changed by the people of Mississippi, not by the legislature and not by the Governor.”

Lt. Governor-elect Delbert Hosemann made this note in a debate.

“We have said before that if the state flag comes up in the Senate, we’ll vote on it," said Hosemann. "It’s not a priority for me to change the state flag. There are opportunities to do that through referendums like they put medical marijuana on this year by getting people’s signatures to do that. I think when Mississippians voted on this in 2001, it may be time to look at it on a second time again but Mississippians will ask when they want to change their state flag. I don’t think really the legislature needs to be doing that.”

And Speaker Philip Gunn first spoke out about changing the flag in 2015.

Rep. Earle Banks is among the lawmakers ready to file legislation to try and make that happen.

“We can’t be hospitable to people when we show an image of hate as that confederate emblem in the corner shows," said Banks. "For me, it’s time for the flag to change.”

But when asked if he thinks it will happen in 2020, he said this.

“I don’t think the first session, but maybe the second or third it may happen.”

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