Hit the Road Jack
In 1986, I drove in a Lincoln Continental up the Mississippi River delta leaving from New Orleans. I planned to see the mighty river close up. After all, I’ve read a lot of German translation of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain as a teenager growing up in Switzerland, and listened to Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf in art school.
Driving the freeway straight up to Memphis was not an option. I took the road less traveled, which was the closest to the Mississippi River. Eventually, I ended up staying in an Airstream trailer in a smalltown named Rosendale for a few days. The Arkansas River meanders and slow merges with the big Muddy, you see the town was a major junction for all the river traffic in Mark Twain’s days.
By the time I visited, the Freeways had replaced the waterway, and the magnificent victorian buildings framed by large Magnolia trees had seen better days. All the young folks would leave for the city due to the lack of jobs and economic prosperity.
My short time spent in Rosendale left a lasting impression on me.
Last week, a news item did catch my attention: “Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill vows not to play unless the state flag is changed,” read the headline.
In the light of Black Lives Matter and the removal of all confederate flags
from NASCAR and Military Bases, the Mississippi State Flag is about to be redesigned.
The graphic designer wheels in my head started to spin, what would a Mississippi flag look like without the rebel flag in the upper left corner? It would look like another horizontal tricolor flag like the national flags of Russia or the Netherlands. With a heraldic emblem in the center, would look like a reversed Missouri Flag.
Immediately I started to think of the Magnolia trees and the Mississippi River and the dynamic of diagonals in flags.
After a little research, I found out that: The magnolia flower is Mississippi’s state flower, and the Magnolia tree the state tree. The thirteen stars in the old flag represent the losing confederacy that wanted to hold on to slavery. During the American Civil War, the Mississippi’s capture by Union forces marked a turning point towards victory, due to the river’s strategic importance to the Confederate war effort.
Could I include the meandering and sometimes river-bank and color-changing Mississippi River into a new design for the Mississippi State flag? Mississippi State bears the same name with its mighty river that has helped shape this entire country since it’s inception.
Here are two design proposals for the new Missippi flag, one based on the diagonal dynamic of the river flowing north-west to the south-(east).
The second design features a meandering river and a blue star, symbolizing the state.
Replacing a state flag is a big deal that doesn’t happen very often. I hope that Mississippi makes bold, progressive choices for its new flag, and it will be a positive step forward into the future.
While I’m writing this post, Tate Reeves, the current Governor of Mississippi, declared that there must be the words: “IN GOD WE TRUST” on the new flag.