Flag of Georgia (U.S. state)

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"Flag of the State of Georgia" redirects here. For the flag of the nation-state, see Flag of Georgia (country).
Flag of Georgia (U.S. state).svg
Name Georgian Stars and Bars
Use Civil and state flag
Proportion 2:3
Adopted May 8, 2003; 11 years ago (2003-05-08)
Design Three stripes consisting of red, white, red. A blue canton containing a ring of 13 stars encompassing the state's coat of arms in gold.

The current flag of Georgia (U.S. state) was adopted on May 8, 2003. The flag bears three stripes consisting of red-white-red, and a blue canton containing a ring of 13 white stars encompassing the state's coat of arms in gold. In the coat of arms, the arch symbolizes the state's constitution and the pillars represent the three branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial. The words of the state motto, "Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation," are wrapped around the pillars, guarded by a male figure dressed in colonial attire dating back to the American Revolution. Within the arms, a sword is drawn to represent the defense of the state's constitution. An additional motto, In God We Trust, is positioned underneath these elements acting as the state's "foundation". The ring of stars that encompass the state's coat of arms symbolize Georgia's status as one of the original Thirteen Colonies.[1] The design principle is based on the First National Flag of the Confederacy, which was nicknamed the "Stars and Bars".[2]


Historical Georgia Flags
Flag of Georgia non official.svg
Before 1879 (unofficial)
Flag of the State of Georgia (1879-1902).svg
Flag of the State of Georgia (1902-1906).svg
Flag of the State of Georgia (1906-1920).png
Flag of the State of Georgia (1920-1956).svg
Flag of the State of Georgia (1956-2001).svg
Flag of the State of Georgia (2001-2003).svg
Flag of Georgia (U.S. state).svg

The state flag used from 1956 to 2001 featured a prominent Confederate Battle Flag, which some residents found offensive due to its historical use by the Confederate States of America and its contemporary use as a symbol by various white supremacy groups.

After it was repealed as the state flag in 2001, the city of Trenton, Georgia adopted it as the official city flag.[4]

There is no written record of what was said on the House and Senate floors, when the 1956 flag bill was introduced and passed. Nor does Georgia provide for a statement of legislative intent when a bill is introduced. A subsequent research report, by the Georgia Senate, states that Support for the 1956 flag change can be broken down into two basic arguments: the change was made in preparation for the Civil War centennial, which was five years away; or that the change was made to commemorate and pay tribute to the Confederate veterans of the Civil War.[5] Critics have interpreted the adoption of the flag as a symbol of racist protest, citing legislation passed in 1956 which included bills rejecting Brown v. Board of Education and comments by then-Governor Marvin Griffin that "The rest of the nation is looking to Georgia for the lead in segregation." [6][7][5] However, there is no reference in official 1956 documents, nor contemporary comments from legislative supporters, nor from the flags designer, John Sammons Bell, linking the flag to Brown v. Board of Education or a racist protest.[5]

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. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) focused on the Georgia flag as a major issue and some business leaders in Georgia felt that the perceptions of the flag were causing economic harm to the state. In 1992, Governor Zell Miller announced his intention to get the battle flag element removed, but the state legislature refused to pass any flag-modifying legislation. The matter was dropped after the 1993 legislative session. Many Atlanta residents and some Georgia politicians refused to fly the 1956 flag and flew the pre-1956 flag instead.

Miller's successor as Governor, Roy Barnes, responded to the increasing calls for a new state flag, and in 2001 hurried a replacement through the Georgia General Assembly. His new flag sought a compromise, by featuring small versions of some (but not all) of Georgia's former flags, including the controversial 1956 flag, under the words "Georgia's History." Those flags are a thirteen-star U.S. flag of the "Betsy Ross" design; the first Georgia flag (before 1879); the 1920–1956 Georgia flag; the previous state flag (1956–2001); and the current fifty-star U.S. flag.

In a 2001 survey on state and provincial flags in North America conducted by the North American Vexillological Association, the redesigned Georgia flag was ranked the worst by a wide margin; the group stated that the flag "violates all the principles of good flag design." [8]

Current flag[edit]

In 2002, Sonny Perdue was elected Governor of Georgia, partially on a platform of allowing Georgians to choose their own flag in a state referendum. He authorized the Georgia legislature to draft a new flag in 2003.

The General Assembly's proposed flag combined elements of Georgia's previous flags, creating a composition that was inspired by the Confederate First National flag, the Stars and Bars, rather than the Confederate Battle Flag. Perdue signed the legislation into law on May 8, 2003.[9]

The 2003 flag legislation also authorized a public referendum on which of the two most recent flags (the 2001 and 2003 versions) would be officially adopted as the flag of the state. The referendum took place during the state's March 2, 2004 presidential primary election. If the 2003 flag was rejected, the pre-2001 design would have been put to a vote.[10] The 2003 design won 73.1% of the vote in the referendum.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Current Georgia State Flag". GeorgiaInfo An Online Georgia Almanac. Galileo - University System of Georgia. Retrieved 2 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Jackson, Edwin L. "State Flags of Georgia". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  3. ^ "Provisions of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated Relative to Georgia, U.S., and Confederate Flags". Carl Vinson Institute of Government, The University of Georgia. 1999-12-19. Archived from the original on 2007-09-02. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  4. ^ Rick Wyatt (2009-07-04). "Trenton, Georgia (U.S.)". Flags of the World. Retrieved 6 July 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c Azarian, Alexander; Eden Fesshazion (August 2000). "The State Flag of Georgia: The 1956 Change In Its Historical Context" (PDF). Senate Research Office. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  6. ^ Coleman v. Miller 1997 decision denying injunction against Governor of Georgia and the Sons of Confederate Veterans for flying the 1956 Georgia state flag. Accessed online November 21, 2006.
  7. ^ Editorial by Congressman John Lewis December 16, 2002. Accessed online November 21, 2006.
  8. ^ 2001 State/Provincial Flag Survey Press release from the North American Vexillological Association. Accessed online December 16, 2006.
  9. ^ "Flags That Have Flown Over Georgia: The History of the Georgia State Flag - Georgia State Flag, Current". Secretary of State of Georgia. 2003. Archived from the original on 2008-09-16. Retrieved 2013-09-17. 
  10. ^ "New state flag endorsed by Georgia governor, lawmakers". USA Today (Associated Press). 2003-04-04. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  11. ^ "Official Results of the March 2, 2004 Presidential Preference Primary and Statewide Special Referendum". State of Georgia. 2004-07-07. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 

External links[edit]