After years of bitter debate, Mississippi voters will head to the polls on April 17th to decide if Mississippi should keep its current flag or adopt a new one.
At the heart of the debate is the confederate emblem in the corner of the current state flag . Some say the confederate emblem is a symbol of Mississippi's heritage and history; others say it's a reminder of slavery and segregation.
The new flag design replaces the confederate emblem with a blue field with 20 stars. The stars represent Mississippi's admission as the 20th state.
The most recent round of debate over the flag was sparked when the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled last May that the state has no official banner.
Following that ruling, Gov. Ronnie Musgrove appointed a flag commission to solicit input on what should be done about the flag debate. That commission was headed by former Gov. William Winter.
The commission traveled around the state and held a series of often bitter public forums. The group also drew fire for a plan to ask Mississippi schoolchildren for ideas on a new flag design. The flag commission eventually proposed a new design and recommended to the state legislature that the issue be put to a statewide vote .
After slightly altering the design, lawmakers set the April 17th referendum.
Numerous groups and state officials, including Gov. Musgrove, have spoken out in favor of replacing the current flag. Among the groups that have endorsed the new flag are the American Family Association, the faculty senate at Mississippi State University, and a group of coaches at the University of Mississippi.