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The South Celebrates Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on Martin Luther King Day

A photo of a driver's license bureau in Alabama

The Deep South slapped Martin Luther King Jr. in the face many times during the fight for civil rights. And it looks like they are still slapping MLK, even though the legendary leader has been dead for more than 40 years.

Many southerners cannot let go of their Confederate hero, Gen. Robert E. Lee, so many celebrate the Confederate leader on the same day — and often in place of — the Martin Luther King national holiday.

African Americans view the observance of Lee, the commanding officer of the Confederate Army, on the same day as the official Dr. King holiday as a racist practice designed to subtly denigrate and disrespect the legacy of the peace-promoting icon.

Although King’s birthday is a federal holiday commemorated on the third Monday of January, Lee’s birthday is not officially recognized.

In Lexington, Va., for example, organizers hold the largest Lee celebration in the state and will do so for Lee’s birthday on MLK Day. The Washington Post reports:

“When Rev. Martin Luther King’s birthday (Jan. 15, 1929) became a federal holiday in 1983, Virginia marked [King and Lee’s] birthdays on the same date, rather than give state workers two days off,” the Post states. “It was an awkward situation that was finally resolved when the state joined the federal government in marking King’s birthday on the third Monday of the month.”

Several Southern states are known to celebrate Lee with the King holiday including; Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Virginia. Blacks, however, are not trying to hear this. It’s literally impossible for African Americans to revere a man who led a war to keep them enslaved.

American Humanist Association executive director Roy Speckhardt, who leads a secularist organization dedicated to promoting morality outside of organized religion, said he celebrates King’s birthday, and cannot reconcile how some states choose to celebrate Lee’s simultaneously.

Trust and believe that he’s not the alone in those sentiments. —terry shropshire


  1. Sdf on January 16, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Uh you’re aware they put MLK day on Lee’s birthday and not vice versa?  The South has been celebrating Lee’s birthday on the first monday for over 100 years. MLK came after – who’s slapping who?

  2. Ebrooks on January 17, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Monday January 17th ??????????  Monday was the 16th. Go to school fool !!!!!!!!!!