2001 Flag Referendum

Why was there a 2001 Flag Referendum?

In 2000 the Supreme Court of Mississippi ruled[16] that the state legislature in 1906 had repealed the adoption of the state flag in 1894. What was considered to be the official state flag was only so through custom or tradition during the previous 94 years.  

In 2001, Governor David Ronald (Ronnie) Musgrove signed House Bill No. 524 on January 12, 2001.  

This bill was precipitated by a series of design proposals intended to remove the representation of the Confederate battle flag from the canton corner of the current State flag. Some Mississippians were offended by the official design and proposed a new design they thought would be more acceptable to the entire populace of the State. 

The legislature and the Governor decided to put an end to the controversy over the State flag and passed a law that would put the design of the Mississippi State Flag to a vote. This vote would determine whether the State flag that had flown over Mississippi for 107 years would continue to fly over the State or whether a new design would be raised over the State capitol. The vote was scheduled for April 17, 2001.  

The new State flag design was similar to the 1894 design except that the canton corner color was changed from red to blue and the representation of the Confederate Battle Flag was replaced with 19 small white stars surrounding one large white star. The 19 small stars represented the number of states that were already part of the Union when Mississippi joined in 1817. The large white five-pointed star in the center represented the State of Mississippi.  

When all the votes were counted the message was clear. The 107 year old Mississippi State Flag would continue to fly over the State. The vote, nearly 65%, sent a clear message that most Mississippians valued the historic symbolism of the 1894 flag. 


On April 17, 2001 Mississippi Voters overwhelmingly chose to KEEP the state flag adopted on April 23, 1894 as the Official Mississippi Flag.   

In Issaquena County, with a 63 percent black population, the vote in the 2001 special election was 349 to 304 in favor of the old state flag.   In Sharkey County, with a 69 percent black majority, the vote was 868 for the old and only 816 for the new. 

"I didn't vote because there was no reason for it because they have had the flag for generations. There is no use in us voting. I think everybody is comfortable with the old flag instead of the new one." , said a 20yr old Black Voter as reported by the Clarion Ledger in 2001.

Gary Henderson, Mayor of Rolling Fork, in Sharkey County, saw it similarly.  "I think for a lot of people this flag decision wasn't a really big issue," he told the Clarion-Ledger. "They have a lot of higher priorities and they are facing other problems that are more important to them. Deciding whether or not we have a cross or some stars on a flag is not one of the graver issues that people are struggling with every day." 

On April 17, 2001 Mississippi Voters overwhelmingly chose to KEEP the state flag adopted on April 23, 1894 as the Official Mississippi Flag.  The following are details about the 2001 vote.

This History of Mississipp's Flag

The history of Mississippi's Flag from the first flag to the current flag chosen by the voters of Mississippi.

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