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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In Arkansas, MLK shares holiday with Gen. Robert E. Lee

Flashback from the Dallas Morning News:

In Arkansas, MLK shares holiday with Gen. Robert E. Lee

In Arkansas, Gen. Lee gets his day, too 

12:00 AM CST on Sunday, January 20, 2008

From Wire Reports

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas state employees will have Monday off, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. – and General Robert E. Lee, commanding officer of the Confederate Army.


The Associated Press

Arkansas Capitol doors indicate 
that offices will be closed Monday 
for both leaders' birthdays.
Every year, the doors of the state Capitol bear notices that offices will be closed the third Monday of January to honor Dr. King and Gen. Lee. Arkansas is one of three states to commemorate both men with a state holiday. The others are Alabama and Mississippi.

"I know my students that come to the university seem to come with a bit of nostalgia for the Old South ... particularly Robert E. Lee, who has the mystique of being the man who only reluctantly seceded," said University of Arkansas history professor Jeannie M. Whayne. "He's become, well, one book's title says it all, The Marble Man, the ideal of the Southerner."
The pull of Civil War history, particularly the Confederacy, remains strong in Arkansas. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette typically runs a long editorial noting the general's birthday each year. Dr. King receives a similar tribute.
Commemorating Gen. Lee's birth dates to 1943, when Arkansas legislators declared it one of several "memorial days" the governor would commemorate by a proclamation. It became a legal holiday in 1947.
In 1983, lawmakers voted to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as an official state holiday but required state employees to choose two out of three holidays – Dr. King's birthday on Jan. 15, Gen. Lee's birthday on Jan. 19 or the employee's birthday. In 1985, they voted to combine Dr. King's and Gen. Lee's holidays. Employees got to keep their birthdays as a holiday.
While some question honoring Gen. Lee, the number of events celebrating Dr. King always outweighs the nearly silent response to the Confederate general, state Sen. Tracy Steele said.
"It certainly has been discussed. In past years, there's not been the type of community outcry or internal legislative support to get it done," said Mr. Steele, D-North Little Rock. "But it does seem the question comes up every year."
The Associated Press

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