TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — On a day that many state and local government offices were closed for Confederate Memorial Day in Mississippi, protesters on Monday said the state needs to stop commemorating the Confederacy.
Several members of Indivisible Northeast Mississippi held signs denouncing the holiday in front of a Confederate monument at the old Lee County Courthouse in Tupelo, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported.
Mississippi law designates the last Monday in April as Confederate Memorial Day. The protesters also criticized Republican Gov. Tate Reeves for issuing a proclamation that April is Confederate Heritage Month.
“You have to ask yourself: ‘OK, what heritage is that?’ That heritage is one of white supremacy, the right to enslave human beings for economic gain,” said Mary Jane Meadows.
Every Mississippi governor since Republican Kirk Fordice in the 1990s has issued a proclamation of April as Confederate Heritage Month, and Reeves said April 13 that he “didn’t think this was the year to stop doing it.”
Alabama also observed Confederate Memorial Day on Monday, and South Carolina will do so in May.
Daniel Jenkins of Tupelo said he was protesting Monday because, as a Black man, he doesn’t subscribe to the Confederate observances. Jenkins sees them as enduring signs of systemic racism, and urged others to join the fight against them.
Celebrating Confederate holidays is contradictory after moves away from other Old South symbols, said Jennifer Lindsey, an attorney in Tupelo. In 2020, Mississippi legislators retired the last state flag in the U.S. that prominently featured the Confederate battle emblem.
“We changed the flag, but we hold on to things like this,” Lindsey said. “There is no memorial day or observance of slaves that died in bondage, yet we celebrate those who fought to keep such an institution alive.”