Tannehill: Next state flag “will be the flag of our lifetime”

Published 10:13 am Thursday, August 6, 2020

In less than a month a new state flag design will be selected and submitted to be placed on the November ballot, but getting to that point requires sifting through 2,000 choices.

The Mississippi state flag commission has already held two meetings, but after last Saturday’s deadline for Mississippians to submit what they hope will be chosen as the next official state flag, the real work begins for the nine-member commission.

Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill is one of the nine members, being appointed by Mississippi Speaker of the House Philip Gunn last month. The weight that is placed on the shoulders of the commission is not lost on Tannehill nor is the opportunity that has been laid out in front of them.

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“It is such an honor. I am so humbled to be a part of this,” Tannehill told the EAGLE. “Our last flag flew for 126 years. This will be the flag of our lifetime, I believe. That’s just a huge responsibility and I love that the whole commission is taking that so seriously.”

There were more than 2,800 designs submitted, ranging from the serious to the not-so-serious designs that included a catfish sitting in a rocking chair and one design that included a photo of a now-infamous moment at the end of last year’s Egg Bowl.

A flag design must be submitted by the commission no later than Sept. 2 so it can be added to the ballot for the fall’s general election. The next steps consist of each member of the commission to select their top 25 designs before meeting again on Aug. 14.

Once the top-five has been chosen, they will be made into actual flags and raised up a flag pole to allow for the commission to see them in a three-dimensional environment, according to Tannehill.

“Things look different on a computer screen than they look like when it’s made,” Tannehill said. “So we’ll get to see those five and those five will be posted on the Department of Archives and History website with the ability for the public to make comment. Since we can’t have town hall meetings and things right now, we still want to get the public’s input.”

Tannehill also said that commission members are able to have graphic designers that they can utilize and have them work up a rendering of a flag that pulls different things commission members have liked from submissions and make into one design.

“It may be that the commission determines that there is a great design that comes elements from three or four different designs. So, that’s in play as well,” Tannehill said.

With her arts and graphic design background, Tannehill said she has been playing around with some designs of her own.

If the flag design that is submitted and placed on the ballot does not receive a majority vote in November the process will begin again next year and have another design placed on next November’s ballot, unless a special election at an earlier date is called by the state legislators. During this process, Mississippi will continue to not have an official state flag.