My name is Laurin Stennis. I am an artist, a member of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi, and the granddaughter of the late Sen. John C. Stennis. I am writing to ask for your support of a new flag I designed as an act of public service in the tradition of my forefathers.
As a Mississippi native, I grew up surrounded by stories, symbols and music that often conveyed serious truths by way of circuitous routes.
As someone who was raised in a political family and who later obtained an undergraduate degree in religion, I have always been fascinated by the power of myth and imagery to both illuminate and inspire, obfuscate and oppress.
One of our most important and well-known images – our state flag – has overtly represented division and even ill-will to many in Mississippi. It has acted as a barrier rather than a bridge to civic and economic development. Recent events have brought this issue to the fore once again, and I believe Mississippians are now ready to project a more welcoming and positive image that truly reflects its people.
My own family has evolved over the generations on matters of race as a matter of public record, and this experience has served as a useful narrative as I speak with those who wrestle with our State’s reputation and imagery. There is no need for me to have any shame or denounce my family’s history, for I am doing what my grandfather claimed as a personal motto and taught me to do: “Look Ahead.”
Therefore, after thoroughly researching the history of flags in our and others states and studying the tenets of successful graphic design as it relates to flags, I set about creating an image that would better capture our history and hopes without denying or romanticizing our past.
Join me in being a part of HISTORY + HOPE.