Texarkana, TX 74° Fri H 89° L 68° Sat H 88° L 70° Sun H 91° L 70° Weather Sponsored By:

Arkansas lawmakers advance plan to strip Robert E. Lee from MLK day

Arkansas lawmakers advance plan to strip Robert E. Lee from MLK day

March 8th, 2017 by Associated Press in Arkansas News

LITTLE ROCK—A proposal to end Arkansas' dual holiday for Robert E. Lee and slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. easily won Senate approval Tuesday, but faces an uncertain prospect in the House where a competing plan would honor the Confederate general the same day as the nation's first president.

The Senate voted 24-0 in favor of the proposal to remove Lee from the state and federal holiday honoring King on the third Monday in January. Only two other states, Alabama and Mississippi, honor the men on the same day.

"It's a day spent in prayer. It's a day spent in remembrance. It's a day that needs to stand alone," Republican Sen. Dave Wallace told the Senate before the vote. "It's a day that needs to stand for Martin Luther King."

The proposal would designate the second Saturday in October as a state memorial day, not a holiday, to honor Lee. It also requires the state to expand what is taught in schools about civil rights and Civil War history.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has urged lawmakers to approve the change, which he says would help unify Arkansas and improve its image.

"While both men have left their mark on history, dually celebrating them, as we have done in Arkansas since 1985, is an obvious incongruence," Hutchinson said in a statement after the vote.

A similar effort to remove Lee from the King holiday repeatedly failed before a House committee two years ago after opponents said it belittled Arkansas' Confederate history. Eleven Senate Republicans didn't vote on the latest measure Tuesday, though some expressed reservations about the move.

Republican Sen. Gary Stubblefield, who called King a hero, questioned the benefit of the move.

"I don't think that changing a day is going to improve our race relations. I just don't think it will," Stubblefield, who didn't vote on the measure, told reporters.

The Senate-backed bill may face competition from an alternate House proposal filed Monday that would move Lee to the state and federal holiday in February honoring George Washington. That measure would also move the state holiday honoring civil rights leader Daisy Gatson Bates from Washington's birthday to the King holiday. Bates mentored the nine black students who integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957.

"It makes sense and it maintains Robert E. Lee being on a state recognized holiday and Daisy Gatson Bates being on a state recognized holiday," said Republican Rep. Jana Della Rosa, who proposed the measure. "It seemed like a nice compromise for everybody."

Both Lee and King were born in January. Arkansas has had a holiday in honor of Lee since 1947 and one for King since 1983. That year, agencies required state employees to choose which two holidays they wanted off: King's birthday on Jan. 15, Lee's birthday on Jan. 19 or the employee's birthday. In 1985, the Legislature voted to combine holidays.

Supporters of ending the dual holiday include the city of Little Rock and Pulaski County, which passed resolutions last year endorsing the move. The 2015 effort to end the dual holiday was fueled in part by photos widely circulated on social media of a sign noting the shared King and Lee day.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Texarkana Gazette Comments Policy

The Texarkana Gazette web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Gazette web sites and any content on the Gazette web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Gazette, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Gazette web sites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Texarkana Gazette
15 Pine Street
Texarkana, TX 75501
Phone: 903-794-3311
Email: webeditor@texarkanagazette.com