Hattiesburg, Mississippi – Approximately 12 hours after the election was called, the City of Hattiesburg raised the “In God We Trust” flag over City Hall ceremoniously in celebration of more than 71 percent of voting Mississippians choosing “yes” to the new state flag design.
Before the Hattiesburg Fire Department Honor Guard raised the new flag, Mayor Toby Barker stated, “Today, thanks to the people of our state and to the courage of so many, we fulfill our shared destiny and chart a path forward toward a brighter, more prosperous, more equal, more compassionate and more true Mississippi.”
This moment comes after five years of city buildings not flying the 1894 state flag that featured the Confederate battle emblem. Beginning in 2015, many cities, counties and universities chose to stop flying the 1894 flag in protest of it being divisive and inconsistent with the state’s better values.
That same year in Hattiesburg, then-Mayor Johnny DuPree made the decision to pull the state flag from all city-owned facilities. Shortly after, The University of Southern Mississippi President Rodney Bennett chose to do the same.
Upon being sworn into office in 2017 as mayor for the City of Hattiesburg, Barker chose to continue that policy.
The statewide discussion to change the flag resurfaced this summer after a series of national incidents. Statewide representation worked together to listen to the people of Mississippi to move forward with a new flag.
With a committee-managed design process that included an open call for submission of new flag ideas, the “In God We Trust” flag was selected as the final option for the ballot measure.
The ballot measure to adopt a new design was added to the general election after the Mississippi Legislature passed House Bill 1796 during the 2020 legislative session. This bill states:
If a majority of the qualified electors voting on the question in the special election vote “Yes,” then the Legislature shall enact into law the new design as the official Mississippi State Flag during the next regular session of the Legislature after the election.
Raising the flag above Hattiesburg City Hall was in celebration of the giant step forward taken by the state of Mississippi. After the “In God We Trust” flag is acknowledged and adopted by the Mississippi State Legislature in the 2021 session, it will fly at all city facilities.