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Mississippi hoists new state flag without Confederate emblem for first time

Mississippi hoisted its new state flag for the first time at the state capitol on Monday, six months after legislators retired the former one featuring a Confederate battle emblem.

The new flag shows a white magnolia on a blue, gold and red background with white stars. Beneath the flower is the phrase “In God We Trust.” The single gold star at the top represents Native Americans and is composed of diamond shapes significant to Choctaw culture.

“When many looked at our former flag, they just saw a symbol of the state and heritage they love. But many felt dismissed, diminished and even hated because of that flag,” Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) said on Monday, The Associated Press reports.

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“That is not a firm foundation for our state. So today, we turn the page,” said Reeves.

The decision to change the flag was made as renewed Black Lives Matter protests took place across the country in response the police-involved deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, among others.

Mississippi lawmakers created a commission last June to create a new state flag that specifically excluded the Confederate symbol and included the phrase “In God We Trust.”

As the AP notes, more than 3,000 design proposals were submitted, with the magnolia flag being the only one put up for a vote last November. More than 71 percent of voters approved of the design.

The call to change or remove Confederate imagery has grown recently, with many activists arguing it does not belong in public spaces.

In the neighboring state of Tennessee, the State Capitol Commission voted last July to remove a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest from the state Capitol. Forrest was a Confederate army general and the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.