Mississippi voters will decide whether to accept a new state flag with a magnolia to replace an old one legislators retired under pressure because it included the Confederate battle emblem that's widely seen as racist, the AP reports. A commission on Wednesday voted 8-1 to recommend the magnolia over one other final design that featured a shield with wavy lines representing water. "We'll send a message that we live in the future and not in the past," former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson, the flag commission chairman, said after the vote. The single design will go on the November ballot. If voters accept the design, it will become the new state flag. If they reject it, the design process will start anew—and Mississippi will remain a state without a flag for a while longer.
The commission decided Wednesday that in the weeks leading to the November election, it will promote the magnolia flag by calling it the "In God We Trust" flag. "More than any other time in our country, we need the mercy and grace of God," said commission member TJ Taylor, who is an attorney and policy director for the state House speaker. After the meeting Wednesday, the magnolia flag was raised on a pole outside the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson, where it fluttered in a brisk breeze. Requiring the religious phrase on the new flag helped persuade some conservative legislators to retire the old one. Legislators shelved the Confederate-themed flag two months ago against the backdrop of widespread protests over racial injustice. (Other flag designs included beer cans and guitars.)