Flag of Georgia (U.S. state)

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State flag of Georgia

The current flag of Georgia was adopted on May 8, 2003 after years of controversy.

The former state flag (second from left below) featured a prominent Confederate Battle Flag, which many of the state's residents found offensive due to memories of its historic use by the pro-slavery Confederate States of America. African-Americans in particular found it offensive, as the emblem was originally adopted not during the American Civil War period but in 1956 during the height of the fight for desegregation. Adherents of the 1956 flag claimed that the flag was designed to commemorate the upcoming Civil War Centennial five years away, while critics speculate it was only adopted as a symbol of racist protest. Support for the flag in 1956 was not unanimous, with the United Daughters of the Confederacy opposing the flag with a prophetic statement that the change "would cause strife".

Political pressure for a change in the official state flag increased during the 1990s, in particular during the run-up to the 1996 Olympic Games that were held in Atlanta, Georgia. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) focused on the Georgia flag as a major issue and many business leaders in Georgia felt that the perceptions of the flag were causing economic harm to the state. Governor Zell Miller attempted to get the cross removed, but the state legislature refused to pass any flag-modifying legislation. Many Atlanta residents and some Georgia politicians refused to fly the 1956 flag and flew the pre-1956 flag instead.

A diagram that shows the 1920, 1956, 2001, and 2003 Georgia flags
A diagram that shows the 1920, 1956, 2001, and 2003 Georgia flags

Miller's successor as Governor, Roy Barnes, responded to the increasing calls for a new state flag, and in 2001 quickly hurried a replacement through the legislature. His new flag sought a compromise, by featuring small versions of some (but not all) of Georgia's former flags, including the 1956 flag, under the words "Georgia's History."

The 2001 flag, though supposedly less offensive, was not popular. It was seen as looking as though it had been "designed by a committee," and was too complicated and busy. The North American Vexillological Association soon ranked it as the worst flag in North America, and stated that it "violates all basic rules of flag design." In 2002 Sonny Perdue was elected governor of Georgia, partially on a platform of allowing Georgians to choose their own flag in a referendum. Perdue disappointed many 1956 flag supporters by not pursuing a referendum on the flag they favored and instead allowed the Georgia legislature to draft a new flag in 2003.

The legislature's proposed flag combined elements of Georgia's previous flags, and created a composition that was largely inspired by the lesser known Confederate First National flag rather than the Confederate Battle Flag. Perdue signed the flag into law in on May 8, 2003.

The 2003 flag legislation also authorized a public referendum on which of the two most recent flags would be officially adopted as the flag of the state. The 1956 flag was not included in the choices, which left some angry with Governor Perdue. The referendum took place during the state's March 2, 2004 presidential primary election. The 2003 flag was approved by 74.3% of voters, and although the vote is not binding, many legislators have expressed hope that this issue is now finally resolved.

Flags of the U.S. states
Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming
Flags of the inhabited insular areas and the Federal district
American Samoa | Guam | Northern Mariana Islands | Puerto Rico | Virgin Islands | Washington D.C.
Unofficial flags of the uninhabited insular areas
Johnston Atoll | Midway Atoll | Navassa Island | Palmyra Atoll | Wake Island
fr:Drapeaux de Georgie

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