A circle of twenty white stars representing Mississippi’s place in the union with one diamond star for the Native American nation that reside within its borders, are displayed on a vibrant blue background. Red and gold stripes run boldly down the sides. The state flower of Mississippi, a magnolia, adorned at the center.
The New Magnolia Flag is one of two finalists for the Flag Commission to decide between come Wednesday, September 2. The design that is chosen will appear on the ballot in November.
As of Tuesday morning the New Magnolia flag was leading the public polls by over 15,000 votes.
This design first began to take shape in 2013, said Ackerman native and flag designer, Rocky Vaughan. The idea came to him after he was struck by the need for Mississippi to reshape its image. He said while watching the news one day, the state flag was mentioned as a discussion over racial unrest was taking place.
“You know that doesn’t have to come up every time that something happens. It doesn’t have to be an issue, “said Vaughan. “Maybe if I could come up with something to show Mississippians, we can have a good-looking flag. If we make it pleasing to the eye and pretty it’ll be easily accepted.
He said with his design he wanted to capture Mississippi timelessly. Vaughan chose not to pull any imagery from the past, or create a futuristic design, but used a symbol much of the nation recognizes Mississippi for, the magnolia. He said while drafting, he hoped to keep the design simple and not overthink the details.
Vaughan said he wasn’t completely surprised that his flag was liked by many. He said he tried to keep it as simple and classic as possible, a design he felt many people could get behind and feel good about. He submitted multiple versions of the same flag design, and ultimately the blue background magnolia flag was selected by the Commission during the process.
While some changes have been made by the commission, Vaughan said he was pleased with what they had done including the star of diamonds which represent the Native American Nation.
“I tried to come up with something to give nod to the Native Americans before and I just couldn’t come up with something cool looking. I kept fumbling around with and,” said Vaughan. “But I’m glad that they did include the star of diamonds at the top,”
Another designer Sue Anne Joe, of Greenwood, contributed the current magnolia that is on the finalized flag. Kara Giles, an artist contracted by the Commission, was able to make appropriate changes to the design before its final form.
Vaughan’s New Magnolia flag is teed up against The Great River Flag designed by Micah Whitson. Whitson is an Ole Miss alumn who now lives in Boston. His flag gained popularity early on in the decision-making process.
“I’d be proud of Micah,” said Vaughan who indicated that the two have exchanged pleasantries and well wishes. “If that’s the way the committee goes and that’s what they think represents Mississippi, what do I have to say about it.”
Vaughan says if his flag is selected, he will do everything he can to promote it and encourage people to make it to the polls.
“It needed to change, let’s be honest it was going to happen sooner or later, it just needed to,” said Vaughan.
The Flag Commission is set to meet at 10:30 on Wednesday morning to announce their final decision between the two flags left as to which one will be on the ballot.