JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Now that the Mississippi’s state flag is retired, the process to select a new one is underway. The flag commission met for the first time Wednesday morning.
The law gives the commission till mid-September to select the new design but they’re working to get it picked by September 2.
Speaker Philip Gunn welcomed the commission members to the meeting and set the tone for the work they’re embarking on.
“I want you to understand the weight of what you’re about to do,” explained Speaker Gunn. “The last flag that we had existed for 126 years or so. What we are about to set a course on is going to last beyond the lifetimes of any of us.”
The legislation also specifies that the commission will elect its chair. They unanimously chose former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson.
“I spent 53 years of my career as a lawyer and judge in courtrooms,” noted Judge Anderson. “And every courtroom I walked into, that flag told me I wasn’t welcome. I, and thousands of Mississippians, have been stiff-armed by that flag.”
The call first went out on July 13 and the public is responding. A criteria list was attached but the two specifications of the bill are that it must include “In God We Trust” and cannot include the Confederate Battle emblem.
“We’ve had roughly 600 so far,” said Mississippi Department of Archives and History Director Katie Blount about submissions. The commission has its work cut out for them with a quick timeline now made even shorter.
“I had a conversation with the staff at the Secretary of State’s office yesterday and learned that September 14 is a pretty tight deadline for them to work with all the circuit clerks.”
There were some discussions about whether a smaller committee would review and weed through the hundreds of submissions. But the members agreed they’d all like to view them before narrowing it down.
“I’m excited,” said commission member TJ Taylor. “That’s what we signed up for.”
Only six members were part of Wednesday’s meeting. According to the law, Governor Tate Reeves is to appoint three members. He has not yet done so despite the fact that the deadline set in the law has passed.
The next meeting dates are currently set for July 28, August 19 and September 2.