Yesterday’s announcement that the Confederate flag will be removed from outside South Carolina’s state house is a good step forward for the country. But there are also plenty of other flags that should come down as well.
For example, the Confederate battle flag is hidden in this state’s flag design. Can you find it?
This flag is flying right now at Mississippi’s capitol in Jackson. And in some ways it’s even more offensive than a separate Confederate flag flying over a memorial honoring Confederate generals. Because it’s the actual, official flag of the state.
After the news in South Carolina, there have been calls to redesign Mississippi’s flag, including a MoveOn.org petition. Some politicians from the state have called for Mississippi to return to a flag named the Magnolia flag, which was the official state flag during the Civil War.
The Magnolia flag, which flew over the state from 1861-1865; a proposed redesign from the 2001 referendum
But it’s not going to be that easy. In 2001 the state held a referendum to change the flag and remove all Confederate imagery. It was rejected by a 2 to 1 margin.
It’s not just Mississippi
As I talked about yesterday in my history of the Confederate flag, parts of the battle flag design live on in the flags of many Southern states. Is it time for these flags to be changed as well?
Top row: Arkansas, Florida; Bottom row: Alabama, Tennessee
Arkansas, Florida, Alabama, and Tennessee all have remixed elements of the Confederate battle flags incorporated into their designs, from the bold diagonal lines to the stars which at one point signified the number of states seceding from the Union.
Like Mississippi, Georgia and North Carolina used the large horizontal stripes from the first Confederate flag
Georgia and North Carolina have flags that borrow heavily from the original Confederate flag (the one that’s technically known as the “Stars and Bars”).
Georgia’s flag in 1956 and the redesigned flag which was approved in 2004
But Georgia’s is actually an improvement upon the flag it used to have. Even though it still nods to its Confederate roots, Georgia is so far the only state that’s taken any contemporary steps to actually change its flag. In 2004, a new flag debuted which was redesigned as part of a referendum to remove the more overt Confederate battle flag graphics.
Erasing other Confederate references
While Mississippi’s flag might be on the way out, there have also been renewed calls for memorials, parks, and streets honoring Confederate generals to be removed or renamed. The flag is even being purged from official government materials like license plates and drivers licenses.
In addition to the civic realm, Kmart, Sears, and many other retailers have joined Walmart in their pledges to stop selling Confederate flag-themed merchandise. Even eBay claims it will ban the listing of merchandise.
While many of these petitions may not garner enough interest as the South Carolina state house issue, it will be interesting to watch which Confederate icons start crumbling just like, well, the Confederacy itself did—150 years ago.
Top image: Rob Hainer