Mississippi declares April ‘Confederate Heritage Month’, sparking backlash and debate

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Just as Mississippi governors have for decades, Governor Tate Reeves signed a proclamation declaring April to be “Confederate Heritage Month.”

“This has been going on a long time to honor the Confederate veterans in the South that fought for the South,” said Lee Millar with Sons of Confederate Veterans.

But some believe it’s time for the old ways to fade away.

Shelby County Commissioner Van Turner has family roots in Mississippi and has been licensed to practice law there for almost 20 years. He was also instrumental in getting statues of confederates like Nathan Bedford Forrest removed in Memphis and thought the Magnolia State was headed in a more progressive direction.

“It seems like a slap in the face. It’s a body blow,” Turner said. “Why would you on one end move the Confederate emblem out of the state flag but then celebrate Confederate history?”

Proponents of the Confederate recognition say history needs to be remembered, pointing out Confederate soldiers are recognized by the federal government as veterans of war.

“Confederate veterans have been forgotten,” Miller said. “They need to be remembered because they are veterans, they are Americans. They fought for their homeland.”

But civil rights leaders argue, if they’re soldiers, why do Confederate soldiers need to be spotlighted and recognized at all, and what message are elected officials sending?

“Let’s remember this so we do not repeat it. We shouldn’t remember it to honor it,” Turner said. “This is the time I think that Governor Reeves ought to show leadership. They should not honor the Confederacy with a month or anything else.”

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