When Mayor Kane Ditto took office in 1989, Jackson didn’t have an official flag.
The flag that had flown over MetroCenter Mall and City Hall during the Dale Danks administration in the late 70’s and early 80’s had never been officially adopted by the city council. Its design was a joint effort between William Hobson, mall management, and city officials.
Michael Rejebian was hired as Communications Director by Mayor Kane Ditto in 1992. Around that time, the administration decided that Jackson needed its very own symbol, one that citizens could unite behind. Rejebian was tasked with leading that charge.
On September 24, 1992, a contest was announced. Commenting on the announcement, Mayor Ditto stated in the Northside Sun, “This flag should reflect not only city government, but individual citizens, their ideals, their history and their future.” The guidelines were similar to those that would eventually be adopted by the North American Vexillological Association in their 2006 publication Good Flag, Bad Flag. The five point check list said a flag should be simple, meaningful, limited to two to three colors, use no lettering or seals and be distinctive.
By the time the deadline of October 16 arrived, over a thousand entries had been submitted, most of them from local school children. A panel consisting of Rejebian, an architect, a TV sales representative, a public school art teacher, a newspaper columnist, a hotel manager, and a restaurateur poured over the entries, narrowing them down to 167 feasible options. Of those, 25 shared common themes that would find their way into the final design.
Clay Moss, a local flag expert and a contributor to Good Flag, Bad Flag, would be brought in to help compile these themes. Moss presented the committee with two options. Jackson’s current flag design narrowly won the vote 7-6.
The flag’s symbolism was simple: a gold star representing Jackson’s position as state capital; a blue center for Jackson’s location along the Pearl River; a white cross, noting the city’s designation as “Crossroads of the South;” and a green field, representing growth, prosperity, land, trees, the magnolia, hope, and fertility.
After a heated discussion with some committee members wanting to hold on to the unofficial 1978 flag, the new flag was adopted by the City Council. On January 7, 1993, in a ceremony in Josh Halbert Gardens behind City Hall, Mayor Ditto formally introduced Jackson to its new official symbol. The original flag (a gift from the Metro Jackson Convention & Visitor Bureau) measured 8 feet by 12 feet and was raised that day in front of a crowd of roughly one hundred spectators. Among those in attendance was 11 year-old Tiffany Dennis. Her design was one of 25 “winners” honored with certificates of appreciation.
Twenty-one years and five mayoral administrations later, the flag still flies over City Hall and can be spotted at locations throughout the city. Kane Ditto is happy to see a revival in interest after all of these years. According to him, the process worked well, including utilizing the ideas of many to produce a “rallying point” and a “pride in the city” among Jacksonians. When asked about any opposition or controversy, Ditto replied, “It really was one of the least controversial things I did in office. The whole process was well-received.”