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Debate on the Georgia (U.S.) flag, 2001-2004: Part 1

Initial Thoughts

Last modified: 2016-03-22 by rick wyatt
Keywords: proposal | georgia |
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[Proposed/New/Old Flag of Georgia]
Proposed New Old Flag
Adopted 31 January 2001
Replaced 8 May 2003

See also:

Within a year of the flag's introduction, a groundswell of opposition to the 2001 flag was evident. The FOTW mailing list maintained an active discussion as this groundswell grew into an open debate, the debate in the State Legislature, and the eventual adoption of the 2003 flag. Selections of the debate from the FOTW mailing list have been extracted below for historical purposes.

Some background on the flag excerpted from an article in the 25 January 2001 LA Times

In a surprise move, the Georgia House on Wednesday approved a new state flag that shrinks--but does not eliminate--the Confederate battle emblem and is likely to end the emotional flag controversy in yet another Southern state.

After a debate that meandered from talk of slave ships to Southern hospitality, the House voted, 94 to 82, for the new design, with most Democrats supporting it and most Republicans opposed. Passage in the Senate is expected soon.

The Confederate battle flag has been one of the most divisive issues in Dixie for several years now as Southerners struggle to find the rightful place for a painful piece of history ... The state flags of Georgia and Mississippi are the last two featuring the controversial Rebel cross. The design of the new Georgia flag is a compromise that is intended to placate civil rights groups without alienating Southern heritage buffs bent on preserving the most enduring symbol of the Confederacy.

It features Georgia's gold state seal set on a background of royal blue, with a banner that sports five smaller flags--including the current one. The words "Georgia's History" are written above the mini-flags, making the context unmistakably clear. The St. Andrews cross, used as a battle flag by the Confederate army, has been cut down in size: from two-thirds of the current flag to about 1% of the new flag.

In the same bill as the flag revisions, lawmakers tossed a bone to heritage groups by agreeing to protect Confederate war memorials and to add the motto "In God we trust" to the new flag. Still, Rebel die-hards were not happy about the "Georgia compromise." Fighting over the flag is hardly new in Georgia. Mississippi actually had the 13 stars and crisscrossed blue bars on its flag since 1894. Alabama and South Carolina never did but instead flew the Confederate battle flag from their state capitols. In 1993, Alabama pulled down its Confederate flag. And after a long, tortuous, well-publicized battle, so did South Carolina in July 2000. But the flag continues to flutter from Confederate monuments near both state capitols.

And so the battle shifts to Mississippi, where voters will decide in a referendum April 17 between the current flag with the Confederate emblem or a new one without it.

Times researcher Edith Stanley contributed to the original story.

Some comments from FOTW list members:

Well, the new flag will be more like many other flags of states of the U.S., i.e. a blue logo-on-bedsheet. Also, the unwanted Confederate battle flag will still be a part of the flag, though much smaller.

Should this be an improvement? IMHO, I don't think so... (I would prefer the 1879-1902 flag.)

Elias Granqvist -- Djursholm, Sweden -- 25 January 2001

I agree that this design is the worst possible solution. While I may disagree with others on what should be done in Georgia, if the answer is to go with this or revert to a prior flag, I would prefer any prior flag to this monstrosity.

Devereaux Cannon -- Tennessee, USA -- 25 January 2001

I must agree with Devereaux and others...this design is absolutely dreadful. I don't really see how it even accomplishes its purpose, as the supposedly offensive design is still included; shrinking it is a rather thick-headed solution that seems to presuppose the ignorance of the public.

*Any* previous design, whether it had the Confederate design or not, would be preferable to this.

Steve Kramer -- Maryland, USA -- 25 January 2001

Just stick with the current flag, and get on to more important stuff. If people don't like it, they can move from Georgia. America is becoming too Politically Correct.

Zachary Harden -- North Carolina,USA -- 25 January 2001


Edward Mooney -- California, USA -- 25 January 2001

Well - Ed Mooney's comment of "YUK" seems to be the prevailing feeling on this list. If that flag has to be changed at all, 1) I wish it was done by a vote of the people, since it's their flag, and, 2) if the legislature had to tinker with it at all they would just go back to one of the pre-1956 flags - which were quite striking, unique compared to other state flags, and still held Georgia Confederate heritage in place - since the 1879 flag was designed by a Georgia CSA officer.

Greg Biggs -- USA -- 25 January 2001
There followed steady discussion on the 2001 flag. The FOTW mailing list maintained an active discussion as this groundswell grew into an open debate, in the media and on the mailing list, into the State Legislature, and the eventual adoption of the 2003 flag. Selections of the debate from the FOTW mailing list have been extracted for historical purposes - you can read the debate as it evolved here: Debate on the Georgian flag, 2001-2004: Part 2.