The five flags that once graced the Seal of the Florida Senate are down to just two — the Florida state flag and the U.S. national flag — in a new version of the seal unveiled this week.
State senators approved the new design in a vote earlier this year.
Miami Herald reporter Mary Ellen Klas tweeted a picture of the new seal, which hangs behind the Senate president’s rostrum and on the door to the Senate chamber, on Monday.
— Mary Ellen Klas (@MaryEllenKlas) November 21, 2016
The change is the second major revision to the seal in as many years. Since 1972, the seal had featured five flags: the U.S. national flag, the 1513 Spanish flag, the 1564 French flag, and the 1763 flag of Great Britain, and the Confederate battle flag. Lawmakers voted in 2015 to replace the Confederate flag with the Florida state flag.
The same five flags had long been featured in city and county flag displays in Pensacola, often called the “City of Five Flags” in recognition of the five nations’ flags which have flown over the city. It’s not clear, though, why those five flags were selected for the state senate seal in 1972; a total of 16 flags have flown over different parts of Florida throughout history.
Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward similarly ordered Confederate flags removed from city flag displays in 2015, replacing it with the Florida state flag. Escambia County followed suit soon after. The nearby city of Milton, Fla. voted last December to replace the Confederate battle flag depicted in its city seal with the “First National Flag” of the Confederacy, also called the “Stars and Bars.”
Five flags mural also removed
The Senate seal was replaced as part of a $5 million renovation of the Senate chamber, the first since Florida’s current capitol building opened in 1978. The 10-foot by 16-foot “Five Flags of Florida” mural outside the Senate’s public viewing gallery was also removed as a part of the renovation project. That mural also depicted the Confederate battle flag as well as Confederate general Joseph Finnegan.
The mural will be preserved and possibly donated to another organization for display outside the capitol, outgoing Senate President Andy Gardiner said earlier this year.
In recent years, local and state governments throughout the South have increasingly removed Confederate imagery from display in light of racially-motivated attacks like the 2015 shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. Major retailers including Walmart, Target, and Sears have also discontinued the sale of items that depict the Confederate flag.