King Day in Arkansas: Or is it Lee Day? | Arkansas Blog

Monday, January 19, 2015

King Day in Arkansas: Or is it Lee Day?

Posted By on Mon, Jan 19, 2015 at 1:14 PM


Arkansas continues to get national attention
for what this website calls the passive-aggressive step — along with a couple of other Southern states — to have an M.L. King Jr. day observance be shared with a Robert E. Lee birthday tribute.

Some just don't get it.

There's this good news. The coverage of the state King Commission's day of service event in Benton — headlined by Gov. Asa Hutchinson — included no references to Marse Robert. So there is that, even if Secretary of State Mark Martin took care to note the double billing for the holiday in his office closure notices. At least King got top billing.

Even Virginia separates it Lee and King observances, the website New Civil Rights Movement notes.

The American Civil War was fought in large part over slavery. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s civil rights battles were the direct result of decades, centuries of anti-equality policies, laws, and beliefs – including slavery – fostered by whites against Blacks. As we honor Dr. King and his legacy today, it's clear that battle is not yet over.

Take the state of Arkansas.

It's not like Civil War Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee (photo) was born in Arkansas – he was born in Virginia. And yet, lawmakers in Arkansas found a way to diminish Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s message of civil rights and equality by "honoring" both King and Lee on the same day, every year, even though they stood for diametrically-opposed beliefs.

In his speech in Benton, Gov. Hutchinson lauded King for forcing people to make choices for the better. Now, if we could just:

* Encourage Hutchinson to include the poorest Arkansas workers in his income tax cut bill, rather than leaving them out.

* Encourage Republicans to stop rolling back voter rights legislation so hard won by King and, in Arkansas, erecting new barriers to voting.

And we hope Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who also was on hand in Benton and sent out a news release tribute on King, wouldn't forward any more email written in ebonics.

It was a nice day for a holiday. A parade finished up at the Capitol. A number of students were given free tickets to see "Selma" at a local theater. The legislature returns tomorrow.

ALSO: Here's Slate on the Dixie states with Lee/King days.

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