The 1861 Magnolia Flag
August 17, 2010
Last week, I noted that the Mississippi NAACP will ask the Southeastern Conference to rule out Pearl as a host site for their annual baseball tournament because of the state flag. Rep. Greg Snowden wrote about the issue on his Clarion-Ledger blog yesterday, and I strongly recommend you check it out.
He makes this very valid point about the 2001 flag vote: “It is my personal opinion that the ‘new’ flag proposed in 2001 was rejected so handily not because Mississippians necessarily are so wedded to the 1894 flag, but because we have a real sense of our history and heritage. We can spot the genuine from the fake, as it were. If you want to replace the old flag, don’t just create an artificial alternative from scratch; rather, find something real from our past to embrace and build upon.”
His solution? How about a return to the ‘Magnolia Flag,’ which was established in 1861, and was the state flag until 1894 when the state adopted the current flag. His point is two-fold: despite being created by a Confederate convention, it does not contain the emblem offensive to the NAACP, but it also has history tied in with- as opposed to the 2001 proposal which was a joke.
From what I have seen, groups who oppose the battle flag don’t seem to have the same concern about less recognizable Confederate flags (even the Confederate national flag). The current Georgia flag is based entirely off of the first national flag of the Confederacy, with the only addition being the state seal in the canton of the flag. This replaced the miserable two-year run of this flag, which actually makes Mississippi’s 2001 flag proposal look decent. Previous to that, the 1956 Georgia flag prominently displayed the battle flag (and somehow Atlanta still got the Olympics in 1996).
As for the politics of this, it’s tough to predict the future, but I don’t see too many Mississippi politicians delving into this issue. The memory of Ronnie Musgrove is still there- and fresh in their minds. Simply put: its political suicide. Will that change? Like I said, it’s tough to predict the future. We have seen the consequences in Mississippi, but the same exact story lines played out in Georgia as well. In 2002, Gov. Roy Barnes (D-GA) was defeated by Sonny Perdue who became the first Republican to hold the office since Reconstruction. By 2004, Republicans had taken over control of the state legislature in the Peach State.
But as Snowden says, the NAACP can’t do a whole lot about the situation, and the truth is they probably turn more people toward the flag just because of their polarizing nature. If and when Mississippians want a new flag, they will get it.