BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – The third Monday in January is a federal holiday, celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In Alabama, the holiday is commemorated as King-Lee Day, also commemorating Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Alabama and Mississippi are the only states that still celebrate King and Lee together. If it’s State Rep. Chris England, this will be the last year the vacation will be split.
“I don’t know many people who would put Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Robert E. Lee in the same sentence, let alone honor them on the same day,” England said. “I think it makes sense, as Alabamians and Americans, to separate these two and give Martin Luther King his due.”
England are sponsoring HB60 to remove Lee from the state schedule. He emphasizes that this is not an attempt to erase history; instead, put it in the right perspective.
“We can’t choose history, we can’t choose the effects that history has had on us, and we also can’t deny the legacy that some of these things like slavery and the Confederacy have had. “, he explained. “But we can choose who we hire, we can choose who we appoint with the distinct honor of giving them a vacation.”
This bill comes as the state grapples with the difficult topic of how to educate children about the meaning of slavery and the fight for equality in the deep south. England says passage of the bill would be a step toward racial reconciliation in Alabama.
“In history most of the time the winners tell the story, but in Alabama the losers do,” England added. “Despite the fact that the Confederacy lost, they often control the narrative here. I think it says a lot about Alabama that despite the headwinds blowing in the direction of the opposition, we still cling to this story. We need to exorcise these demons, one of the best ways to do that is to get rid of the Jefferson Davis vacation, to separate MLK and Robert E. Lee.
We don’t know if HB60 will have any opposition. England says it shouldn’t be an election year problem.
“I can’t imagine anyone running for re-election being afraid to tell their constituency that these two don’t belong on the same day,” England replied. “I’m sure you’ll see many Republican lawmakers and congressmen tweeting quotes from Martin Luther King today. I want to make sure the people of Alabama understand that we can put our money where our mouth is. and truly honor him by establishing a day just for him.
England also sponsored HB58, which aims to eliminate Jefferson Davis’ birthday, which is commemorated in Alabama on June 7. The third Confederate state holiday, Confederate Memorial Day, is April 25.
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