La. Senate approves cutting Confederate Memorial Day and Robert E. Lee Day from state’s holiday list

State Sen. Joe Bouie said the holidays represent “a time in our history that was one of the darkest.” 

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Louisiana lawmakers on Friday approved revising the state’s official holiday list to no longer include segregationist governor Huey Long’s birthday, a day commemorating Confederate general Robert E. Lee, nor Confederate Memorial Day, per The Advocate.

House Bill 248, greenlighted 29-4 by the State Senate, will nix the holidays from official recognition if approved by Gov. John Bel Edwards, D-Louisiana. The bill must first return to the House for review of a wording change, according to the outlet.

Sen. Joe Bouie, D-New Orleans, told the outlet that the removal marks a “wonderful opportunity to realign, if you will, what we call a holiday.” Bouie added that the memory of Robert E. Lee and Confederate soldiers represents “a time in our history that was one of the darkest.” 

Sen. Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria said: “This is an important step in the right direction,” before saying that the change does not absolve the state of racism, but does represent that “we’re ready to do the right thing.”

According to the Advocate, years have passed since the last formal celebration of any of the three holidays, despite their official observance.

The governor is required under law to declare the celebrations, but decades have passed since the holidays made the list of holidays granting workers a day off.

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According to the outlet, Confederate Memorial Day was written to law around 1925, “though [it] could have been part of the scene as early as the 1870s when a number of Southern states adopted the holiday to mirror the Memorial Day for Union soldiers.”

Three southern states, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi, still formally observe the holiday despite criticism from state leaders who deem the commemoration regressive. Lawmakers in each state have unsuccessfully challenged the observances, according to Newsweek.

“Today, state offices are closed to observe Confederate Memorial Day. This is another example of how our state continues to live in the past. Honestly, it’s embarrassing,” tweeted former South Carolina Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham in May. “When I’m governor, we’re going to end Confederate Memorial Day and make Election Day a state holiday instead.”

Other states, such as Texas and Tennessee, don’t list Confederate Memorial Day as an official observance, but still hold statewide commemorations to celebrate it, per the report.

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