Mississippi governor signs bill permitting license plates with alternative flag without Confederate symbol

Mississippi governor signs bill permitting license plates with alternative flag without Confederate symbol
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Mississippi residents will soon be able to choose an alternate design for license plates in the state that does not include the state flag, which contains a Confederate emblem.

A bill signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Phil Bryant (R) allows the state to sell several specialty license plates, including one that substitutes the so-called "Stennis Flag" in place of the Mississippi state flag, according to The Associated Press.

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The Mississippi flag is the last in the nation to contain a Confederate emblem in its design. The "Stennis Flag," created by Jackson, Miss., artist Laurin Stennis, features a blue star surrounded by smaller blue stars across a white background with red bars on either side.

Stennis, granddaughter of former segregationist Sen. John Stennis (D-Miss.), has proposed the design as an official replacement for the state flag, an effort that has yet to gain traction among state lawmakers.

“What is the role of a state flag? In this day and age it is marketing and branding,” Stennis told the AP. “If any company or any corporation had a symbol that hurt its morale and its bottom line the way ours does, they’d change it immediately.”

Mississippians who want to display the Stennis Flag or one of the other official license plate designs approved by Bryant's signature on Wednesday will have to pay $30 at a local Department of Motor Vehicles to order the plates.

The last effort to replace the state's flag with one that did not include Confederate imagery failed in 2001.