What’s so controversial about the Mississippi State Flag?
In 1817, the United States welcomed Mississippi, into the Union as the 20th state. Mississippi’s first flag, known as the Bonnie Blue Flag was a simple flag design with a blue background and a single white star in the center. The Bonnie Blue Flag was striking in its simplicity and remained Mississippi’s first flag until 1861. But big changes were ahead for Mississippi and their flag.
When Mississippi seceded from the Union in 1861, it was considered to be a separate, stand-alone nation. The Mississippi Secession Convention decided not only to break ties with the Union but also to adopt a totally new flag. Out with the Bonnie Blue Flag and in with the new Magnolia Flag. The new Magnolia Flag featured the Bonnie Blue design in the upper left corner and included a magnolia tree (considered by many to be a symbol of Mississippi) and band of red. This new flag was Mississippi’s first official state flag and flew above the state’s troops throughout the Civil War.
Mississippi’s second state flag, adopted in 1894, would become one of the most controversial flags our country has ever known. Why? Because this new flag included the Confederate Battle Flag, also called the Rebel Flag. The flag committee chose a union square (red background, blue cross, 13 five-pointed white stars) for the upper left corner. This ‘union square’ is often associated with the Rebel Flag of the South and the Confederate Battle Flag. Some are surprised to learn that the 13 stars represent the original 13 colonies, not the states that seceded from the Union. Next to the Union Square, are the stripes of red, white and blue.
More than 100 years later, in response to proposals and protests, Mississippi Governor Musgrove agreed to propose House Bill 524. This bill allowed for the people of Mississippi to vote to decide the fate of their state flag and try to put an end to the controversy. There were 2 flags on the ballot; the current controversial ‘rebel flag’ and an alternate flag where the ‘union square’ was replaced by a blue field with 20 white stars arranged in a circle. The 20th star represented Mississippi being the 20th state to join the Union and was slightly larger and centered among the other stars. In 2001, Mississippi citizens voted overwhelmingly (65%) to keep their original Rebel Flag. Mississippi let the world know that they are proud of their Confederate Rebel Flag roots and don’t want to change a thing about it.