State offices in Mississippi are closed today in recognition of Confederate Memorial Day, honoring Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. The state House of Representatives passed a bill this year that would have also established a "Civil Rights Memorial Day" on the last Monday in April, but the measure died in the Senate. Earlier this month, the white-separatist Council of Conservative Citizens claimed credit, with the state chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, for killing the bill.
Jackson Rep. Earle Banks, a Democrat, inserted the civil-rights holiday as an amendment to a larger bill that established Columbus Day as a legal holiday. Rep. Credell Calhoun, D-Jackson, amended the bill to include days of recognition--but not legal holidays--on the last day of February for "African American Day" and Aug. 26, for "Women's Day."
Banks also proposed a standalone bill to establish concurrent state holidays for Confederate Memorial Day and Civil Rights Memorial Day, but that bill never passed the House Appropriations Committee.
The amended holidays bill passed the House on a largely party-line vote. It died in the Senate Rules committee, chaired by Republican Billy Hewes from Gulfport, who is running for lieutenant governor.
In a statement, Council of Conservative Citizens Field Director Bill Lord said that the organization saw Banks' amendment as a threat to the Confederate holiday.
"The Mississippi CofCC immediately recognized that the true purpose of the legislation was to wipe out Confederate Memorial Day," Lord said in the statement.
"By placing a black holiday on top of the existing state holiday, the media would gleefully report the black holiday every year and censor all mention of Confederate Memorial Day. ... A petition was immediately drawn up and mailed to MS CofCC and SCV leaders in the states. In only two weeks, thousands of signatures were collected. Enough phone calls were made to state Senators that the Senate version was killed in committee!"
Many states in the former Confederacy recognize Confederate Memorial Day. Alabama and Georgia also recognize it as a state holiday today.
Local celebrations of Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war date back to the war's end. Yale University history professor David Blight has called a May 1, 1865, funeral procession for Union soldiers in Charleston, S.C., the first "large scale ritual of Decoration Day," as Memorial Day was formerly known. Memorial Day became a national holiday in the late 1860s, in large part, due to the efforts of General John A. Logan, commander of the Union veterans organization the Grand Army of the Republic.
According to Blight, by 1869, southern cities and towns were participating in a decoration day, with Confederate memorial holidays coalescing around a number of dates.
Ah, the CofCC: still fighting the good fight. Wonder if the members have to memorize the words to the Mississippi Articles of Secession?
Sadly, the committee members that sat on the bill won't be hurt by being alligned with the CofCC. It would probably help them to get re-elected. This is as sad and pathetic as the racist, un-American symbol on our state flag.
The 1894 MS state flag is just as american as the U.S. federal flag. The 13 stars on the state flag actually represent the original 13 U.S. colonies. The red, white & blue bars represent the colors of the U.S. federal flag.
Confederate Memorial Day is to honor the soldiers who fought to defend their homeland against an immoral war. Fmr. Pres. Carter even said Lincoln's war was immoral.
It's really pathetic to see all this energy focused against the memory of the confederate cause when we have the Patriot Act, Foreign Wars, Illegal aliens, Big Pharma, Wall Street Bankers, HAARP & other issues the mainstream media won't bring up.
Far as slavery, What country hasn't done it in the past? It's economic decline was evident anyways in the south. Contrary to what most people believe, white southerners during the 1800's were pretty much opposed to it. Wealthy blacks even owned slaves theirselves.