On this dayApr 27, 2015

States "Celebrate" Confederate Memorial Day

Image | Albert Cesare, Montgomery Advertiser

On April 27, 2015, several Southern states, including Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia, held an annual celebration to mark Confederate Memorial Day in remembrance of the April 1865 surrender of Confederate General Joseph Johnston.

Confederate Memorial Day ceremonies originated immediately after the Civil War as celebrations of the Confederacy, in which veterans would parade in full uniforms with songs, flowers, and speeches about the “Lost Cause." According to Purdue University professor Caroline E. Janney, “It is a way to sustain an identification as a Confederate. It’s a way to sustain your southern identity and to continue to resist the federal government.” But for many, the Confederate identity that the holiday celebrates is inextricably linked with a history of racism and slavery. Slavery was, after all, written into the Constitution of the Confederate states, which mandated that no law could curtail the right of white people to own "negro slaves," and that enslaved people could not ever be discharged from their service. For many, a state holiday honoring the Confederacy is a hurtful reminder of a brutal and unjust history.

This perception is heightened when overtly racist groups like the Ku Klux Klan mark Confederate Memorial Day with hate-filled ceremonies. In Mississippi, the KKK group United Dixie White Knights celebrated Confederate Memorial Day in 2015 by burning a cross, in addition to raising the Confederate flag and reciting the Confederate pledge.

State holiday designations are subject to change, but multiple southern States continue to observe Confederate Memorial Day each April. State officials can confirm whether your state is one of them.

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