Florida has plans to remove several holidays honoring citizens of the Confederate States of America from its record books, News4Jax reports.
The state's Senate Community Affairs Committee voted 4-2 to eliminate the birthdays of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis, as well as a Confederate Memorial Day as legal Florida holidays, this week. Lee's was traditionally honored on January 19, Davis had his holiday on June 3 and Confederate Memorial Day was celebrated on April 26.
Critics claimed the bill was introduced based upon a desire to “make all things Southern invisible.”
Mary Barlow of Lake City, Florida said that she wants the holidays to stay because they have always been celebrated.
"These men, these holidays are celebrations that I was raised upon,” she noted.
The bill's sponsor, Lauren Book (D-Plantation), said that critics have her measure all wrong. She said that she wants everyone to know their history and know it well, but that she wants to get rid of anything that honors a nation “which upheld the institution of slavery and perpetuated inequality and division within our country.”
Scott McCoy, senior policy counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center, praised the bill.
“It is past time for Florida to end its celebration of a treasonous government and two of its leaders who fought to enslave and oppress an entire group of people based on the color of their skin,” McCoy said.
Book's bill still has some hurdles to pass before it becomes law: it still has to journey through two additional committees to reach the Senate floor.
And it's opponents are putting pressure on their elected officials to vote against it. For instance, Barbara Hemingway of American First Team Manatee has begun calling on senators to stand up for “Florida’s history.”
Florida has been working hard at Confederate wig-snatching of late. The Sunshine State made news when the state's Senate unanimously voted to replace a statue of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith with Mary McLeod Bethune, and last year, one Florida city voted to change the names of streets named after Confederates.