Flag of Georgia (U.S. state)
|Name||Georgian Stars and Bars|
|Use||Civil and state flag|
|Adopted||May 8, 2003|
|Design||Three stripes consisting of red, white, red. The canton is blue containing a ring of 13 stars encompassing the state seal in gold.|
The current flag of the U.S. state of Georgia was adopted on May 8, 2003. The flag has three red and white stripes, with the state coat of arms (taken from the state seal) on a blue field in the upper left corner. 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, with a drawn sword representing the defense of the Constitution. An additional motto, In God We Trust, appears under these elements, though it is not part of the state seal or coat of arms. In the center of the canton is a circle of 13 white stars, symbolizing Georgia as one of the original Thirteen Colonies. The flag's design is based on the First National Flag of the Confederate States of America, which is nicknamed the "Stars and Bars".
|“||I pledge allegiance to the Georgia Flag and to the principles for which it stands: Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation.||”|
—Pledge to the Georgia Flag
|Historical Georgia Flags|
Before 1879 (unofficial)
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.
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. Years later, critics expressed belief that the flag was adopted 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."  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.
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." 
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.
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. The 2003 design won 73.1% of the vote in the referendum.
The current flag resembles the first official Confederate flag ("The Stars and Bars"), while also using some elements of the 1879, 1902, 1906, and 1920 state flags.
- State of Georgia
- History of Georgia
- Symbols of the state of Georgia
- Great Seal of the State of Georgia
- Jackson, Edwin L. "State Flags of Georgia". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2008-05-15.
- "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.
- Rick Wyatt (2009-07-04). "Trenton, Georgia (U.S.)". Flags of the World. Retrieved 6 July 2010.
- Azarian, Alexander; Eden Fesshazion (2000-08). "The State Flag of Georgia: The 1956 Change In Its Historical Context" (PDF). Senate Research Office. Retrieved 2007-10-07.
- 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.
- Editorial by Congressman John Lewis December 16, 2002. Accessed online November 21, 2006.
- 2001 State/Provincial Flag Survey Press release from the North American Vexillological Association. Accessed online December 16, 2006.
- "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.
- "New state flag endorsed by Georgia governor, lawmakers". USA Today (Associated Press). 2003-04-04. Retrieved 2007-10-07.
- "Official Results of the March 2, 2004 Presidential Preference Primary and Statewide Special Referendum". State of Georgia. 2004-07-07. Retrieved 2007-10-07.
- Georgia State Flag History
- the New Georgia Encyclopedia
- Report of the Officers of Volunteers to the Georgia House of Representative to establish the [first] flag of the State of Georgia, November 9, 1879. From the collection of the Georgia Archives.
- Georgia Capitol Flag Collection