With the debate of whether or not to change the state flag in the history books, what remains is the task of choosing a new banner that will now represent Mississippi.
The Flag Commission reported that it received over 3,000 designs from the public for consideration to be the new Mississippi state flag. The group has now whittled that number down to 147 designs that merit further consideration. The goal is for the Commission to present five designs for public viewing, with ultimately one choice being presented to the voters on the November General Election ballot for their approval.
One of those designs – the Great River Flag – has caught the eye of Mississippians from the Coast to Corinth, with the Facebook page promoting the design drawing close to half a million views in the last week.
The designer is Micah Whitson, an Ole Miss alumnus who now lives in Boston and works as the Chief Creative Officer for a multi-billion dollar health technology company. Whitson also founded and owns Old Try, a Southern letterpress printing business, where he creates and sells prints that remind him of the South.
Vexillologist Clay Moss spoke to Flag Commission members in late July. Moss specializes in flag history and design. He advised the Commission on a few key components to consider when selecting a flag, specifically selecting a design that is simple and recognizable at a distance. Moss also advised choosing a design that is easy for a child to recall and recreate by memory, and that is easy to be sewn by someone at home.
Whitson believes the Great River Flag achieves that goal while representing the “proud, smart, kind, far-flung people” of Mississippi.
Whitson developed a website for the Great River Flag design highlighting the versatility and applicability it could have within all walks of life in the state, essentially using it as a natural way to brand and cross promote the state. He dedicated the design to a “friend, mentor, pastor, boss” from Lafayette County.
“I’m designing this in memory of my good friend, mentor, pastor, boss – the late Troy Young of Lafayette Co., Miss.,” Whitson wrote. “He gave me my first design job and helped show me who God was and what a man could be. He was raised in the hills of northern Mississippi and returned there far too soon. El Jefe, this is for you, your state, and those you have inspired.”
On his Facebook page, Whitson recently shared a message he received from a Mississippian who offered their own interpretation of the Great River Flag design. He liked it enough to share it.
“It’s said that there are 5 main regions of Mississippi; The Hills, The Delta, The Pine Belt (Piney Woods), The River/Capital, and The Gulf Coast. I think all of these fit amazingly into your design,” they wrote.
“The Hills represented at the top of the shield, the two arches with a crest in the center. The Delta and the River both of course represented by the the river (specifically the top waves and the river line). The Capital also by the star at the top. The Gulf Coast represented by the bottom waves at the top of the body of the shield. The Pine Belt by the tall lines encompassing the width of the shield.”
Whitson spoke with Y’all Politics on Thursday, discussing his background and why he chose to submit a design. He offered his inspiration for the Great River Flag design, noting that he considered the history of Mississippi and America, as well as the traditional concepts that flag designers of yesteryear would have used to convey meaning through symbolism. You can watch that interview below.
At the end of the day, Whitson says he is a product of the South and he loves Mississippi, which is what drove him to get involved with the Great River Flag design.
“I love Mississippi,” Whitson wrote on the site. “And whatever flag she ends up with, I know it will represent the state better than it has ever been represented before.”