The Mississippi government is getting backlash for a now-deleted tweet concerning the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
On Thursday, the Mississippi Department of Revenue tweeted that it would be closed in honor of MLK Jr. Day and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s birthday. The update was quickly scrubbed from Twitter, but not before users could take screenshots.
Lee, who was born on Jan. 19, 1807, is a revered war leader among Confederate sympathizers, however, his birthday is not, nor has it ever been, a federal holiday. Lee’s birthday historically has been a state holiday across states that comprised the Confederacy, and Alabama and Mississippi continue to observe it on the federal MLK holiday.
“I’m sorry, who’s birthday?” D.C. activist Jordan Uhl wrote on Twitter. “They deleted it … I guess those rebel colors do run.”
A fellow user pointed out that in Virginia “it used to be a celebration of both Lee and [Gen.] Stonewall Jackson, so for years it was Lee-Jackson-King Day.”
“Its ‘Confederate Hero’s Day’ on Jan. 19 in Texas,” another chimed in. “I like to call it ‘Saturday’ this year. Seriously, WTF?!”
Despite the nationwide push to rid cities of their Confederate monuments and symbols, Mississippi has been fighting to keep vestiges of its Southern “heritage” alive and well, all while blatantly ignoring the region’s dark history of slavery and Jim Crow. These efforts were on display again in 2016 when Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill declaring April as “Confederate History Month.”
“As countless historians have pointed out, most Confederate monuments were erected as part and parcel of the signing of Jim Crow laws, the development of Lost Cause mythology, and the establishment of white supremacy in the South in the decades following the end of Reconstruction,” EdWeek editor Stephen Sawchuck wrote in a recent op-ed.
Of the MLK-Lee Day mashup, Sawchuck wrote that “Whether these decisions were made for bureaucratic reasons or more ominous ones — likely a combination of both — it’s pretty ghastly to pair a holiday for a black civil rights leader with one celebrating someone who fought for the preservation of a slave society.”
Alabama reporter Leada Gore also previously noted that Gen. Lee precedes King on the state’s official calendar, and reads as “Robert E. Lee/Martin Luther King Birthday.”