Lee-King holiday bill amended to placate foes | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Lee-King holiday bill amended to placate foes

Posted By on Tue, Jan 27, 2015 at 11:32 AM

click to enlarge TO BE LAID TO REST: The Lee-King holiday would become just a King holiday under legislation that would also keep a "memorial day" for Lee, shown here sleeping on the battlefield in a sculpture in Lee Chapel at Washington and Lee University.
  • TO BE LAID TO REST: The Lee-King holiday would become just a King holiday under legislation that would also keep a "memorial day" for Lee, shown here sleeping on the battlefield in a sculpture in Lee Chapel at Washington and Lee University.

Rep. Nate Bell
filed an amendment yesterday to placate foes of his bill to end dual observances of the birthdays of Robert E. Lee and Martin Luther King Jr. as a joint state holiday on the third Monday in January.

The amendment would eliminate June 3 as a memorial day for Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States, and add a memorial day on Nov. 30 — Patrick Cleburne Robert E. Lee Southern Heritage Day. It would not be a state holiday. Cleburne was a Confederate general, killed in battle in Franklin, Tenn., on Nov. 30, 1864. He's buried in his adopted hometown of Helena and is namesake of Cleburne County.

The amendment comes with due deference to the Confederate worshippers who forced the amendment:

The General Assembly finds that: The State of Arkansas has a very proud and distinguished southern culture and heritage; and

The state should maintain and celebrate its culture and heritage, including its military leaders, while continuing to recognize and celebrate other events and days of state and federal historical significance.

It is the intent of the General Assembly by the enactment of this act to maintain and celebrate the state southern culture, heritage, and military leaders while continuing to honor, observe, and celebrate other days and events of state and federal historical significance. 

If we could endure a memorial day for Jefferson Davis, we can endure one for Patrick Cleburne, the Stonewall of the West, and Robert E. Lee.

Ending a holiday for Lee, even one only half for Lee, is long overdue. Bell is to be commended for getting it done, if this amendment is sufficient for passage. The Sons of Confederate Veterans can put all the gloss on the traitor Lee's character that they want, but the historic fact is that the holiday was invented in the 20th century as a continuing symbol of southern resistance.

Reports continue to bubble of stout resistance. The KKK, should anyone care, has been heard from. Two black Democratic legislators, Charles Blake and Vivian Flowers, are among the co-sponsors of Bell's bill. Rep. Fred Love has filed a separate bill to end Lee-King Day.

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