As Sesquicentennial Nears, South Moves To Expand Confederate Celebration

confederate-flagThe 150th anniversary of the [the start of the] Civil War is in 2011. Here are some fun facts, none of which I knew:

Alabama, Virginia, Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana , Georgia, and Florida observe Confederate History Month in April
– Most Southern states recognize Confederate Memorial Day as a legal holiday
– Some Southern states celebrate Confederate Memorial Day on the June birthday of Confederate President Jefferson Davis (makes sense)
Texas and Arkansas observe it on Jan. 19, the federal holiday for slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. (does not make sense)

With the big sesquicentennial celebration rapidly approaching, organizers are attempting to spread the holiday state-by-state to the entire nation.

Organizers say that the idea of the confederacy is often used as a political tool and that, when told accurately, there is more positive to be told than negative. However, since many simply associate the confederacy with slavery – which angers those who have ancestors who died in the war – organizers have tried to shine a new light on people’s currently held notions.

In recent years, they have sought to redefine the Confederacy in multicultural terms, pointing out that Jews, Hispanics and blacks fought for the South. They argue that the war had little if anything to do with slavery, and they have become vocal in their opposition to white supremacist groups that use the Confederate flag as a symbol of hate.

However, Jonathan Sarris, associate professor of history at North Carolina Wesleyan College, says that’s a just a big lie:

To say that it is not racist but about multiculturalism is an attempt to adopt a modern mind-set. You can call it a victory for the forces of multiculturalism when even the defendants of the Confederacy feel they have to pay some lip service to the idea of tolerance.

Georgia state Sen. John Bulloch, a Republican who sponsored the bill recognizing Confederate History Month in that state, said Confederate History Month is no different than Black History Month. He further noted that it would increase tourism, especially to areas with Civil War battlegrounds.

Black history is a very important part of the heritage of American citizens, so we recognize it. The War Between the States is a very significant part of the history of the United States, so why should anybody look at this any different? With Georgia being part of the Confederacy, this is something that is very significant to us.

I’m not sure how you can seriously expect this to be a nationwide celebration when 17 of the nation’s states weren’t even states at the start of hostilities and 14 of those only became states after the North won.

Source: Southerns Looking To Share Their Confederate Holiday (Chicago Tribune)

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