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Activists are calling on state leaders to leave Confederate Memorial Day in the past

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A Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol honor guard folds the retired Mississippi state flag after it was raised over the Capitol grounds one final time in Jackson, Miss., in a July 1, 2020 file photo. A draft policy being circulated by Pentagon leaders would ban the display of the Confederate flag in Defense Department work places or public areas by service members and civilian personnel. The policy has not yet been finalized or signed by Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

According to Mississippi state law, the last Monday in April is celebrated as Confederate Memorial Day, a holiday intended to be a time of celebration and remembrance of those who fought for the Confederacy.

Lacey Alexander

Activists are calling on state leaders to leave Confederate Memorial Day in the past


Mississippi is one of three southern states that observe Confederate Memorial Day as a state holiday, but advocates believe the celebration is antiquated and rooted in racism.

Mary Jane Meadows is a member of the North Mississippi chapter of the Indivisible advocacy group. Her organization protested the holiday's recognition last year and plans to do the same for 2023.

"That means that 25,000 or more state employees have a day off with pay courtesy of the Mississippi taxpayers," she said. "39% of whom are black persons who are voters and taxpayers."

Governor Tate Reeves has also proclaimed April as Confederate Heritage month. Leslie-Burl McLemore has been involved in civil rights activism in Mississippi since the 1960s, and now serves as professor emeritus for political science at Jackson State University. He says educating young adults on Mississippi's past is what will allow the state to move away from holidays celebrating confederate figures.

"We should do a much better job... starting in the lower grades through higher education," he said. "talking about and teaching and educating our young people about our history and about ways that we can work together and move forward and not backward."

Three states, Georgia, Virginia, and Louisiana, have derecognized the holiday since 2016.

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