AUSTIN (KXAN) — Tuesday lawmakers from across Texas will gather for a virtual news conference to call on the abolishment of a state holiday: Confederate Heroes Day.
“Look, it’s time that we put it aside — our harmful, oftentimes looked at as hateful rhetoric and memorials and holidays that celebrate individuals that represented a horrible time in our nation’s history,” said Rep. Jarvis Johnson, a Democrat from Houston representing District 139.
Johnson plans to introduce House Bill 36 in an effort to end the holiday honoring Confederate leaders. He first introduced the bill in 2019, but it didn’t get very far.
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Johnson said it is the right time to do it following this month’s Capitol attack and months of protests last year over police brutality and racial injustice.
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The holiday which is observed on January 19 used to be two holidays — one each for the birthdays of Robert E Lee and Jefferson Davis. But in 1973, five years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination, the Texas Legislature decided to merge the two into one and set the holiday for January 19th — Robert E. Lee’s birthday.
The date, in years past, has sometimes fallen on the same day as the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day, another reason Johnson said they are working to abolish the holiday.
But not everyone agrees, even among Black lawmakers. Republican Rep. James White of East Texas told our media partners at the Texas Tribune that he believes all those who fight in war deserve honor, regardless of the cause of that war.
Other states across the country celebrate a similar holiday including Alabama, Louisiana, Florida and South Carolina.