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Georgia (2001-2003) (U.S.)

Last modified: 2014-11-01 by rick wyatt
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[2001-2003 Flag of Georgia] image by Andy Weir, 26 January 2001
Adopted 31 January 2001
Replaced 8 May 2003

Symbolism of 2001 Flag
(Click on image to see larger version)
[Symbolism of Georgia 2001 flag]
image submitted by Phil Nelson
3 February 2001

See also:

The 2001 Flag

From Fox News:

State Approves Georgia Flag
The Georgia Senate has approved a new design for the state flag, voting 34-22 to shrink the Confederate battle flag symbol on the banner. Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat, lobbied for the new flag as the Senate met to debate the issue, telling lawmakers they could ease divisions he said had plagued the state over the 50 years since the Confederate symbol was added to the state flag.

"We are one people forever woven together in a tapestry that is Georgia," he declared as the Senate neared what was expected to be a close vote on the proposed flag. "We are all one or at least we should be, and it is our job, our duty and our great challenge to fight the voices of division and seek ... reconciliation."
Phil Nelson, 30 January 2001

From Fox News:

New State Flag Rises Over Georgia
Wednesday, January 31, 2001 By Patricia M. Lahay

A new Georgia flag with a much smaller Confederate battle emblem was hoisted above the statehouse Wednesday, nearly a half century after legislators stamped the rebel symbol on the state banner.

The flag was raised quietly and quickly, much like the compromise that Gov. Roy Barnes began hustling through the Legislature one week ago with a surprise unveiling.

The new banner features a gold Georgia seal on a blue background above a ribbon with five tiny historic flags, including the former state flag with the Confederate battle emblem.
Earlier Tuesday, Barnes signed the bill consigning to history the old banner dominated by the rebel fighting emblem, less than 24 hours after the measure won final legislative approval.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says the bill was signed early 31 January.

Phil Nelson, 31 January 2001

Legal Description

Sec. 50-3-1. Description of state flag; militia to carry flag.
The flag of the State of Georgia shall be a blue field, centered upon which shall be placed a representation of that side of the great seal of the state described at subsection (c) of Code Section 50-3-30, centered in a circle of 13 equally spaced white mullets or five-pointed stars, and beneath the same shall be an escroll or ribbon, gold, two-thirds the length of the field, bearing the words "Georgia's History" and charged below said words with a representation of five flags horizontally presented as follows: the first, to the left, being that version of the flag of the United States of America consisting of a field of 13 red and white stripes and, centered in a canton of blue, a circle of 13 equally spaced white mullets or five-pointed stars, as adopted by the Continental Congress in 1777 and commonly known as the "Stars and Stripes" or the "1777 Flag"; to the right thereof a flag consisting of a field of blue, centered upon which shall be placed a representation of the coat of arms of the state as the same appeared on the great seal of the state adopted in 1799, and which flag is commonly known as the "Pre-1879 Georgia State Flag"; to the right thereof a flag consisting of a vertical band of blue occupying the leftmost one-third of the entire flag, on which shall be placed a representation of that side of the great seal of the state approved in 1914 which contained the coat of arms of the state, and the remainder of which flag shall consist of a scarlet field horizontally bisected by a white band such that said band shall be equal in width to the remainder of the scarlet field both above and below, which flag is commonly known as the "Pre-1956 Georgia State Flag"; to the right thereof the flag of the State of Georgia as approved at Ga. L. 1956, p. 38, Section 1; and to the right thereof that version of the flag of the United States of America consisting of a field of 13 red and white stripes and a canton of blue bearing 50 white mullets or five-pointed stars, such that such flag shall represent the flag of the United States of America as the same appeared on July 4, 1960. And under the horizontal representation of the five flags, the phrase "In God We Trust" shall be written in the blue section and in the same gold color as the State Seal. Every force of the organized militia shall carry this flag when on parade or review.
Joe McMillan

The Secretary of State's office specified a rich gold coloring for the seal and ribbon portions of the flag: it is called "Dahlonega gold."
Peter Krembs, 29 June 2002

Governor Barnes' Speech Introducing the Flag

The complete text of the governor's speech to the Georgia House on Jan. 24, 2001.

Forty years ago, faced with court orders to integrate and with demonstrations by Georgians who wanted the University of Georgia and the state's public schools closed instead, the people who stood in our places did the right thing. The schools stayed open. And Governor Ernest Vandiver told the General Assembly that, unless Georgia faced up to the issue and moved on, it would "devour progress consuming all in its path pitting friend against friend demoralizing all that is good stifling the economic growth of the state."
    We have a great deal to be proud of as Georgians our history, our heritage, our state's great natural beauty but nothing should make us prouder than the way Georgia has led the South by focusing on the things that unite us instead of dwelling on those that divide us. While the government of Arkansas used the armed forces of the state to prevent nine black students from enrolling at Little Rock's Central High School, while the Governor of Alabama stood defiantly in a schoolhouse door, Georgia quietly concentrated on growing our economy, on the goals that bring us together rather than those that can tear us apart. And, in the process, Georgia established itself as the leader of the New South.
    Forty years ago, Birmingham was about the same size as Atlanta, and Alabama's population and economy were almost as big as ours. Georgia moved ahead because its leaders looked ahead. Anyone who doesn't realize that's why Georgia has become the fastest growing state east of the Rocky Mountains does not understand economic development.
    I am a Southerner. My wife is named May-REE. I like collard greens with fried streak-o-lean, catfish tails and all, fried green tomatoes, cat head biscuits and red eye gravy. My heart swells with pride when I see a football game on a crisp fall Saturday. I still cry when I hear Amazing Grace. My great-grandfather was captured at Vicksburg fighting for the Confederacy, and I still visit his grave in the foothills of Gilmer County. I am proud of him. But I am also proud that we have come so far that my children find it hard to believe that we ever had segregated schools or separate water fountains labeled "white" and "colored." And I am proud that these changes came about because unity prevailed over division. Today, that same effort and energy of unity must be exercised again.
    The Confederate Battle Flag occupies two-thirds of our current state flag. Some argue that it is a symbol of segregation, defiance, and white supremacy. Others that it is a testament to a brave and valiant people who were willing to die to defend their homes and hearth. I am not here to settle this argument because no one can but I am here because it is time to end it. To end it before it divides us into warring camps, before it reverses four decades of economic growth and progress, before it deprives Georgia of its place of leadership in other words before it does irreparable harm to the future we want to leave for our children. As Governor Vandiver said four decades ago this month: "That is too big a price to pay for inaction. The time has come when we must act act in Georgia's interest act in the future interest of Georgia's youth." And, as Denmark Groover Governor Marvin Griffin's floor leader and the man who assured adoption of the current flag in 1956 told the Rules Committee this morning: "This is the most divisive issue in the political spectrum, and it must be put to rest." Denmark Groover is right. It is time to put this issue to rest and to do so in the spirit of compromise.
    This morning the House Rules Committee passed out a bill to make Georgia's flag represent Georgia's history all of Georgia's history. Both personally and on behalf of the people of Georgia, I want to thank Calvin Smyre, Larry Walker, Tyrone Brooks, and Austin Scott for their work to bring the people of Georgia together. The Walker Rules Committee substitute takes the original Georgia flag the Great Seal of Georgia set against a background of blue and adds a banner showing all of Georgia's other flags. It has the National Flag of the Confederacy and the Confederate Battle Flag, as well as flags of the United States, because first and foremost we are Americans. The bill also has a provision preserving Confederate monuments and says our current state flag should be displayed in events marking Georgia's role in the Confederacy.
    To those who say they cannot accept this because the Confederate flag is still in the banner, you are wrong. The Confederacy is a part of Georgia's history. To those who say they are opposed to this because it changes the current flag, you are wrong also. The Confederacy is part of our history, but it is not two-thirds of our history. It is time to honor my great-grandfather and the Georgians of his time by reclaiming the flag they fought under from controversy and division.
    The Walker Rules Committee substitute preserves and protects our heritage, but it does not say that, as Southerners and as Georgians, the Confederacy is our sole reason to exist as a people. Defeating this compromise will confirm the worst that has been said about us and, in the process, dishonor a brave people. Adopt this flag and our people will be united as one rather than divided by race and hatred. Adopt this flag and we will honor our ancestors without giving aide to those who would abuse their legacy.
    Georgia has prospered because we have refused to be divided. We have worked together, and the nation and the world have taken notice. We are where we are today, the envy of other states, because decades ago our leaders accepted change while others defied it. In the long run, it has paid us handsome dividends. Today, the eyes of the nation and the world are on us again to see whether Georgia is still a leader or whether we will slip into the morass of past recriminations. I have heard all the reasons not to change the flag and adopt this compromise: "it will hurt me politically"; "this is how we can become a majority"; "this is our wedge issue"; "this is the way we use race to win." Using race to win leaves ashes in the mouths of the victors. If there is anything we should have learned from our history, it is that using racial bigotry for political advantage always backfires. Sometimes in the short run, sometimes in the long run. Often both. And if you allow yourself to be dragged along in its raging current even if only briefly -- you will live the rest of your life regretting your mistake. I know.
    Seventeen years ago this General Assembly debated whether to make the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. a state holiday. Many of the arguments I heard then I hear again today. "What will they want next?" "You know you can't satisfy them." The argument that gave the most political cover was "Martin Luther King was a great man, but we already have enough holidays, and we don't need any more." I was a young state senator, and my calls and constituents, for whatever reason, were against the King Holiday. I knew it was the right thing to do, but I was so worried about my political future that I did what many legislators do: when the vote came up, I had important business elsewhere. I knew instantly I'd made a mistake. So when the bill came back to the Senate for agreement, I voted for it. I was immediately besieged by constituents; so on final agreement, I voted against it. There is not a day that goes by that I do not regret that vote. Fortunately, there were enough leaders in this General Assembly then with the wisdom and the fortitude that I lacked as a young legislator. Don't make my mistake. Each of you knows the right thing to do. You know it in your heart. You know it in your mind. You know it in your conscience. And, in the end, that is all that matters. When the dust settles and controversy fades, will history record you as just another politician or as a person of conscience? Make no mistake, just as with me and a vote almost 20 years ago, history will make a judgment.
    Robert E. Lee once said "it is good that war is terrible, otherwise men would grow fond of it." This is not an issue upon which we should have war. Our people do not need to bleed the color of red Georgia clay. This is an issue that demands cool heads and moderate positions. Preserving our past, but also preserving our future. And not allowing the hope of partisan advantage to prohibit the healing of our people.
    Like most of you, I am a mixture of old and new, of respect and honor for the past, and of hope for the future. The children of tomorrow look to us today for leadership. If we show them the courage of our convictions, they will one day honor us as we honor the true leaders of decades past. Do your duty because that is what God requires of all of us.
submitted by Peter Orenski, 26 January 2001

Debate after the flag's introduction

Within a year of the flag's introduction, a groundswell of opposition to the 2001 flag was evident. The FOTW mailing list maintained an active discussion as this groundswell grew into an open debate, the debate in the State Legislature, and the eventual adoption of the 2003 flag. Selections of the debate from the FOTW mailing list have been extracted for historical purposes - you can read the debate as it evolved here: Debate on the Georgian flag, 2001-2004.