Great River Flag: What’s the symbolism?

Updated: Aug. 26, 2020 at 11:04 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - So, who’s behind the Great River Flag design that’s a top two finalist? It’s designer Micah Whitson, an Alabama-native who graduated from Ole Miss in 2003.

“I wanted to ground the foundation in something that was real and was true,” explained Whitson. What he found was a territorial seal made in 1798.

“There was some etching in there, some vertical line work that was really kind of breathtaking to me and so I wanted to start there and kind of build off of it,” said Whitson. “That was the formulation and foundation was the escutcheon in the middle of that territorial seal.”

And he gave it further meaning. The red vertical lines appear in threes, representing the three nations that occupied the Mississippi Territory: Spain, France, and Great Britain.

It’s also intended to be a nod to the height and splendor of the piney woods. It has been dubbed the Great River Flag. The river is featured along the top of the shield-like design.

“That’s the physical and the economic and the cultural kind of boundary of the state that stretches elsewhere so I really wanted to make sure that some of that was represented in the piece as well,” Whitson noted.

Whitson was specific in his design, down to the font chosen. “In God We Trust” is in a typeface that he says would’ve been used when Mississippi became a state in 1817. The only change made by the commission from the original submission is the star at the top.

“Good design serves the people that it’s made for and to see a meeting pivot… I had a single star there to representing truth in my original idea,” described Whitson. “But to see how the commission there and other folks got excited about the fact that the Hamaya, the diamond shape, that is meaningful to Choctaw, could be applied five times to represent all five regions, I think just takes it to a whole other level and it makes that star in and of itself an emblem for the state.”

The commission will choose the design to appear on November’s ballot at their September 2 meeting.

Details on the New Magnolia Flag later this week. For more details on the Great River Flag, click HERE.

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