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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


In a postcript to the MLK holiday, Garance Franke-Ruta notes in Tapped today that the King commemoration coincides with a state-recognized Robert E. Lee holiday in several southern states.
There are a couple of other states (including my home state of Georgia) where the Lee birthday of January 19 only coincides with the King commemoration when it happens to fall on a Monday (otherwise, it becomes a movable feast that enables state employees to get the Friday after Thanksgiving off work).
I guess you could say this compromise reflects a decision by some southern legislatures to give equal time to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. But it gets really confusing in Virginia, where the King holiday is celebrated in conjunction with a state holiday commemorating not only Robert E. Lee but Stonewall Jackson–hence, Lee-Jackson-King day.
But in some cases, there may be a very slowly creeping commemorative progressivism underway. When the Georgia legislature made Lee’s birthday a (little-known) state holiday, it did so to replace Jefferson Davis’ birthday, which was a source of huge embarrassment back when I was a Georgia state employee. And given Virginia’s deep obsession with the Civil War (which is a bit understandable when you consider the state’s incredibly bloody experience in that war), we should consider ourselves lucky that a day hasn’t been set aside to commemorate Lee’s horse, Traveller.

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