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We asked Black artists from Mississippi to design a new state flag - L.A. Focus Newspaper

Written by Jacqui Palumbo, CNN

What should Mississippi's new state flag look like? Voters in November will have the chance to choose a design that best represents the identity of the Magnolia state, following the retirement of their state flag.

The old design, which was adopted in 1894, was the last US state flag to bear the emblem of the confederate battle flag. On June 30, Mississippi governor Tate Reeves signed a bill from the state Legislature to do away with the flag in the wake of widespread racial justice protests following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. The Black Lives Matter demonstrations around the country have re-ignited nation-wide debate about confederate statues, and some have come down at the hands of protestors or local governments.

People are calling for museums to be abolished. Can whitewashed American history be rewritten?

What should our monuments of the future look like?

In the midst of discussions about what future monuments and other symbols should look like, we reached out to five Black emerging artists who grew up in Mississippi with the prompt to reimagine the state flag. Here's what they came back with.

Dante Johnson

Name: Dante Johnson

Age: 24

Location: Gulfport, MS

Artistic focus: Illustrative logo design and drawing

Dante Johnson's design places the state flower, the magnolia, as the centerpiece, and his concept looks to unite his home state. "Most Mississippians have very strong southern pride," he said. "Unfortunately, that also has its drawbacks. Southern states tend to be more stubborn when it comes to change, the questioning of values or one's own personal beliefs."

In his flag, "the seeds in the center star represent the youth that hold the future in their hands," he explained. Olive branches, symbolizing peace, cradle the central elements. "These olive branches represent an era of change, something that attempts to symbolize bridging the divide that is so strongly present in Mississippi."

Robin M. Johnson

Name: Robin Martéa

Age: 33

Location: Jackson, MS

Artistic focus: Children's illustrations

When thinking of her concept Robin Martéa looked to the state flags of California, Arizona, Maryland, Wyoming and South Carolina -- the favorite designs of her friends and family members. "These flags are stylish, simplistic and progressive," she explained over email. "I wanted to follow the same formula."

Martéa's design is non-traditional and celebratory, reflecting her own artistic practice, which often features uplifting, hopeful imagery.

"I loved the idea of using the Mississippi state bird, which is the Mockingbird," she added. "What better way to depict freedom and progression than a bird? The colors that I chose, which are blue tones with yellow, signify peacefulness and joy."

Reshonda Perryman

Name: Reshonda Perryman

Age: 31

Location: Jackson, MS

Artistic focus: Graphic design

The image that

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