Mississippi voters overwhelmingly approved a new state flag featuring a magnolia flower on Tuesday.
The “New Magnolia” flag, which has a red, blue and gold design, will replace the state’s former flag, which had the Confederate emblem. State lawmakers agreed in June to remove the old flag, which had been in place for 126 years, after pressure from Mississippians who argued that the Confederate emblem is a symbol of racism.
Gov. Tate Reeves approved the measure to remove the Confederate emblem and formed a commission to help residents submit new designs. The commission voted 8 to 1 for the “New Magnolia” flag, and on Tuesday voters approved the design with 72 percent of the vote.
The Mississippi legislature will have to formally approve the new flag when the 2021 legislative session begins in January, and it will then be flown at state buildings.
Along with the magnolia flower, the flag includes the words “In God We Trust,” along with 20 stars in honor of Mississippi’s status as the 20th state. It also includes a single yellow star, to represent the Native American people who lived on the land before colonizers arrived.
“We’ll send a message that we live in the future and not in the past,” said former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson, the flag commission chairman, after they approved the design in September, according to the AP.
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Reeves had asked Mississippians to “put our divisions behind us, and unite for a greater good,” when he signed the bill removing the Confederate emblem in June.
"I know there are people of goodwill who are not happy to see this flag changed. They fear a chain reaction of events erasing our history, a history that is no doubt complicated and imperfect," the Republican governor said. "I understand those concerns and am determined to protect Mississippi from that dangerous outcome."
Reeves added that the decision to change the flag "is not a political moment to me, but a solemn occasion to lead our Mississippi family to come together, to be reconciled and to move on."
This story originally appeared on People.com .
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