August 11, 2020 10:48:52 AM
Anybody who paid attention to the recent debate over the Mississippi flag should enjoy looking at the 2,700 proposals that residents submitted for its replacement.
The state Department of Archives & History put all of them on its website Monday. The site is www.mdah.ms.gov. There is a link on the homepage to view the submissions, and they are worth a scroll. It's evident that a lot of people took the challenge seriously and sent in some very creative work.
About 1,800 of the designs met the Legislature's rules for the new flag -- it cannot have the Confederate emblem, which got the former flag finally retired, and it must include the phrase "In God We Trust." Another 900 designs missed one or both of those but are included on the website.
The website also allows viewers to mark up to 25 favorites. It would be fun over the coming weeks to create a separate page that displays the designs that get the most votes, even though the nine-member flag commission is not required to choose any specific entry.
A look through several hundred of the designs -- a few drawn by hand, but most using graphic design software -- indicates that a magnolia blossom is one of the most popular ideas for the flag. A number of the designs have 20 stars to signify that Mississippi was the 20th state to join the Union. Many also incorporate the state's curvy western river boundary into the design, and others use the state seal, which includes "In God We Trust."
One of the most clever entries includes Kermit the Frog, a teddy bear, a blues guitar and other items with Mississippi roots as the centerpiece. For true humor, one design is nothing more than a picture of the Ole Miss player who got in trouble for posing as a dog in the end zone during last year's Egg Bowl.
A cursory review of the entries makes one thing clear: Designing an effective flag is a difficult assignment.
The Mississippi flag is even more challenging because of the controversy surrounding the one it will replace. The new design has to tread gently on those angered by that decision, while proposing a piece of art that unites people with very different opinions. Plus, the flag commission needs to come up with something that has the best possible chance of being approved by voters in the November referendum.
Flag design is a mission in which the phrase "less is more" applies. A consultant told the commission that a good flag is easily recognizable from a distance -- think the Stars and Stripes -- and tiny elements in the design rarely work.
The flag commission has a tough job, but it has been given a bunch of ideas with which to work. Let's hope this leads to something of which we can all be proud.
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