Mississippi flag design process: Elvis has left the building

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A member of the state Department of Archives and History prepares a handout of materials on how to design a flag for members, following the first meeting of the Flag Commission, Wednesday, July 22, 2020, in Jackson, Miss. The group has the duty to design a new Mississippi flag without the Confederate battle emblem and the banner must include the phrase, "In God We Trust." (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON, Miss. – The new Mississippi state flag will not include beer cans, crawfish, a caramel cake, Elvis or Kermit the Frog.

Mississippi recently retired the last state banner with the Confederate battle emblem that’s widely condemned as racist. A nine-member commission will recommend a replacement that cannot include the Confederate symbol and must have the phrase, “In God We Trust.”

The public submitted nearly 3,000 designs, and the commission narrowed that to 147 proposals that were posted Monday to the state Department of Archives and History website. Lost in the first round were designs with food items and celebrities.

Many of the remaining designs have magnolias and stars. Some have wavy lines that could represent the waters of the Mississippi River or the Gulf of Mexico. The oddball among the survivors has a giant mosquito surrounded by a circle of stars.

On Friday, the nine commissioners will meet and choose the final five. By early September, they will agree on a single design to put on the Nov. 3 statewide ballot.

The commissioners — who were appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker — could accept one of the public submissions, combine elements from different designs or start from scratch and draw their own.

Mississippi had used the same Confederate-themed flag since 1894, when white supremacists in the Legislature set the design amid backlash to political power that African Americans gained during Reconstruction. People who voted in a 2001 election chose to keep the flag, but the symbol remained divisive in a state with a 38% Black population.

All eight of Mississippi’s public universities and a growing number of cities and counties stopped flying the state flag in recent years.