It was not a flag that all Georgians could rally around. On this date in 1956, Governor Marvin Griffin signed legislation to change the Georgia flag to one that included the Confederate battle emblem on two-thirds of the banner.
Democratic Party leader John Sammons Bell began the campaign a year earlier after two controversial Supreme Court decisions that ordered the desegregation of public schools. Georgia leaders denounced the rulings, and Gov. Griffin asked lawmakers a week earlier to pass his “massive resistance” legislative agenda and declare the court’s desegregation mandates null and void in Georgia.
State Senators Jefferson Lee Davis and Willis Harden sponsored the flag bill, which sailed through the legislature, with no public hearings or statewide referendum. Representative Denmark Groover proclaimed that the new flag “will show that we in Georgia intend to uphold what we stood for, will stand for and will fight for.”
It became a divisive symbol but remained Georgia’s official banner for 45 years after its adoption on February 13, 1956, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.