Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Novel Approach to Black History Month

A South Carolina state senate committee has given initial approval to a bill that would make Confederate Memorial Day a paid holiday.* I can't say I was really surprised, considering the Confederate battle flag is displayed on the grounds of the state capitol.

I was surprised, however, that the bill's sponsor is black. Democratic State Senator Robert Ford believes that observing both Martin Luther King Day and Confederate Memorial Day** would help South Carolinians come to terms with the complexities of their history.

I can see that. After all, isn't intense introspection and reflecting on the past what Americans do with all their other paid holidays?

*I grew up in Mississippi, am descended from slaveowners, and I wasn't even aware there was a Confederate Memorial Day. Turns out Confederate Memorial Day is a state holiday in Mississippi, but wasn't declared one until 2003 (I suppose they had to do something to ease the pain of formally abolishing slavery. In 1995.).

**In Mississippi and Alabama, Confederate Memorial Day is observed in connection with Johnston's surrender to Sherman. In South Carolina, it commemorates the death of Stonewall Jackson and the capture of Jefferson Davis by Union forces. What is this obsession neo-Confederates have with getting their asses kicked?

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