A social media scandal erupted in a small Mississippi town on Friday night, ahead of the Martin Luther King Day federal holiday.
In a since-deleted tweet, the city of Biloxi said some municipal offices would be closed on Monday “in observance of Great Americans Day, a state-named holiday”.
Residents, shocked that the city had changed the name of the federal holiday designated in honor of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr to celebrate “Great Americans”, quickly voiced their complaints.
The city was quick to say that it did recognize Martin Luther King Day and had posted details of the celebrations planned in honor of King.
The incident, however, highlighted an awkward truth about Mississippi’s Martin Luther King Jr Day: that it is also Robert E Lee Day.
Lee was a leading commander of the military forces of the Confederacy, which fought in defense of slavery in the civil war from 1861 to 1865.
Arkansas and Alabama also jointly celebrate Martin Luther King Day and Robert E Lee Day, despite annual protests.
People pushed for a holiday commemorating King immediately after he was assassinated in 1968. Congress eventually recognized their efforts, and the third Monday of January was first observed in King’s honor as a federal holiday in 1986.
But some states and municipalities were slow to…
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