Remembering Martin Luther King on Confederate Heroes Day

confedToday is Confederate Heroes Day in Texas. If it seems like a strange coincidence that Confederate Heroes Day is placed awkwardly close to the date we celebrate the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, that’s because it’s not a coincidence.

Robert E. Lee’s birthday, January 19th, has been a minor state holiday in Texas since 1931. Amid rising calls nationally for a celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday, the Texas Legislature responded in 1973 with the sort of passive-aggressive hostility so common in the late Civil Rights Era. They consolidated Lee’s and Davis’ birthday holidays into a celebration of the Confederacy which, by pure happenstance of course, would fall at almost the same time as King’s birthday, January 15th.

That little piece of spite on the part of the Legislature happened in an era of one-party Democratic rule in Texas. Republicans are fond of pointing out that Democrats ran the South throughout the Civil Rights Era and were responsible for many of the worst of the atrocities carried out against African-Americans. So, here’s a chance for my fellow Republicans to put some capital behind their rhetoric.

Perhaps it would be a valuable good-faith gesture for the Legislature to simply move Confederate Heroes Day to line it up with similar commemoration dates in other states later in the spring, usually in April. It would acknowledge the Democratic legislature’s poor motives in setting the date in January and emphasize the state’s commitment to Dr. King’s legacy and memory under a new, more enlightened Republican regime.

This will not happen. The reason it will not happen is that the Republicans who hold single-party rule in Texas now are the heirs of single-party Democratic rule back then. In fact, some of them are literally the same people sitting under a different party banner. Something as innocuous as attempting to change the date of a holiday hardly anyone knows exists would bring the rats out the woodpile. They would place relentless pressure on Republican politicians not to “back down” to “political correctness.”

That is the state of the Republican Party in a nutshell. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Civil Rights, Neo-Confederate, Texas
20 comments on “Remembering Martin Luther King on Confederate Heroes Day
  1. DanMan says:

    I worked at the state for awhile and it was during the time MLK day became an optional holiday. We had up to 16 days a year of holidays like CH Day, LBJ’s birthday, Texas Independence Day and all the typicals. We were allowed to float two holidays so if you were Jewish you could forego LBJ’s bd for Yom Kippur or Texas Independence Day for MLK Day, etc.

    Everybody took the four day Confederate Heroes Friday and MLK Day Monday to get a four day weekend.

    True story. I got a bonus for being the only person in my senior history class to know it was MLK’s birthday. It was before it was a holiday and it made me my black teacher’s pet for the rest of the year. Thank you Ms. Lee!

    • desperado says:

      Well, color me impressed.

      • DanMan says:

        good call, should go well with that frock

        I got another A as junior when I did a book report on The Autobiography or Malcolm X. Black history teachers could be real patsies but these two were very good. As a matter of fact if anybody remembers the black history teacher at Sharpstown Junior High that had the wondering eye, he was actually one of the history teachers that had the most impact on me. That guy had us cover All Quiet on the Western Front in the 9th grade. Remarkable educator. I started out my college career as a history major because of those great teachers.

        Anybody that sat through a Malcolm Day lecture at UH was treated to epic presentation as well.

    • Crogged says:

      There’s no logical reason a traitor can’t be brave, celebrate away.

  2. GG says:

    Never even heard of this holiday and I was Texas born and bred.

  3. desperado says:

    Confederate hero? No such thing. Hero implies someone in pursuit of some noble cause. The Confederate states attempted to dissolve the union over the cause of maintaining the right of one human being to own another. Nothing heroic about that. Nothing. Confederate Heroes Day? How about Confederate Traitors Day.

    • flypusher says:

      You can always celebrate the fact that they lost.

      Where’s that popcorn?!

    • rightonrush says:

      True story. I was sitting in a bar in Saigon where a group of Southern boys were getting loud and abnoxious, letting off steam. One of the guys yelled “The South will rise again” and from somewhere in the bar another voice answered, “Yep, just high enough to kiss my Yankee Ass”. The MP’s had to come in and break up the fight, but the guys from the South got their butts kicked by a group of New Yorkers. Should add that the Southern boys were falling down drunk and the New York guys had just come in and hadn’t had too many drinks.

  4. CaptSternn says:

    Confederate Heros Day in Texas was set in 1931, Robert E. Lee’s birthday. It is fixed, not a floating holiday King was only 2 years old at the time. Some of Texas also honors Confederate Memorial Day on April 26. MKL Day was signed into law by Reagan in 1983. It was originally supposed to be set on King’s birthday, January 15.

    There is no need nor reason to change nor eliminate any of these holidays. There are just some people that want to find something to whine and complain about, people that can’t mind their own business, people that have to meddle and control everybody else. No different than people demanding mascots and names be changed for sports teams, no different than Obamacare.

    And then there is the question of which side is working to hi-jack the dates. Maybe some believe that Texas has a time machine and went back to when King was a toddler and set the date for Confederate Heros day. Probably the same kind of people that think Bush43 used that time machjine to invade Iraq in 1990 and frame Iraq for it so he would have a reason to remove the Hussein regime in 2003. That he also had a mind control machine to convince people that missiles he personally fired on the WTC in 2001 were really airplanes, all to establish a natural gas pipeline in Afghanistan. And don’t forget the hurricane machine he used to create Hurricane Katrina to kill people in New Orleans.

    As for current republicans being yesterday’s democrats … no, just no. Out of 26 Dixicrats, 23 went back to being democrats. Only three switched parties. Modern democrats still look down on all that are not white males. They just use a different form of control.

    • goplifer says:

      ***Confederate Heroes Day in Texas was set in 1931, Robert E. Lee’s birthday.***

      That is false. Bobby Lee’s and Jeff Davis’ B-days were both official holidays in Texas for decades. The Legislature combined them into Confederate Heroes Day in 1973 as a spiteful stick in the eye toward those pressing to create an MLK holiday. The holiday list and associated legislation is here:

      Why is Texas’ Confederate Heroes Day synchronized with MLK’s birthday while the other Southern states place theirs later in the year? Because the other states created theirs decades before anyone knew anything about a troublemaker named King. Texas decided to copy them in response to pressure around a King birthday celebration.

      And three Democrats switched parties? 3? Out of 26? 26 what?

      Poll your neighbors, or better yet, go back and look at their primary voting records.

      Pick 3…I’ll go with Rick Perry,Phil Gramm, John Connally.

      Could add maybe Kent Hance, How about Congressmen Bill Archer and Greg Laughlin. Carol Keaton Strayhorn (does she count?). Jack Cox.

      We could do this all night. Should we dip into lists of friends and neighbors?

      • CaptSternn says:

        “And three Democrats switched parties? 3? Out of 26? 26 what?”

        Dixiecrats. Thought you would be more educated, or less deliberately ignorant, than that. Should have known better.

        Arkansas also has the day in January, though set on Monday to coincide with MLK day.

        Even you, in your article, admitted it was estbalished in 1931. You don’t think anybody else knows how to do some basic research?

        ‘Nuff said. Bye.

  5. Doug says:

    People should honor their heroes, and respect others’ right to celebrate different heroes. Tolerance is what we all want. I celebrate Confederate Heroes Day, Lee and Jackson were some of the best Christian men who ever lived. On MLK Day they should add Booker T. Washington to the celebration.

  6. flypusher says:

    I’ll just continue to ignore CH Day, as I always have.

  7. kabuzz61 says:

    Racist democratic leaders celebrate this but in your twisted mind it is the GOP who hold the responsibility. Only a liberal can think that obtusely.

    • goplifer says:

      No problem. You have Republican majorities in both houses and a Republican Governor. There’s all the votes you need to repeal it. Prove me wrong.

      • flypusher says:

        No, Chris, the fact that you have the gall to point out an easy political fix means that you hold the GOP responsible for every bad thing that’s happened since the Big Bang…..

      • Bart-1 says:

        Logic would tell you that if the Old Conservative Democrats under a new banner are the current Republicans, then “GOPlifers” are actually yesterday’s old liberal; Democrats under a new banner. Ouch!

      • DanMan says:

        Bart, Bart, Bart

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Bart? “Logic”?


        Now THAT was a belly buster.

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