Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Confederate Heroes Day in Texas

No, this is not a joke out of The Onion.

By way of the Maddow Blog and related Facebook discussion thread I discovered there actually is a "Confederate Heroes Day" in Texas as you can see by their official holiday list here.
19 - Confederate Heroes Day (partial staffing holiday)House Bill 126, 42nd Legislature Regular Session. Chapter 8. Approved and Effective January 30, 1931 as Robert E. Lee's Birthday.
Senate Bill 60, 63rd Legislature Regular Session. Chapter 221. Approved June 1, 1973 and Effective August 27, 1973 as Confederate Heroes Day. This bill deleted June 3rd as a holiday for Jefferson Davis' birthday and combined the two into Confederate Heroes Day.
Just unbelievable. And the date is not a coincidence:
In 1973 the Illinois Legislature was the first in the nation to create an official holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. That same year, the Texas Legislature responded to calls for a celebration of the Civil Rights leader’s life and work in a very different manner. 
Since the ’30’s Robert E. Lee’s birthday on January 19th had been a minor state holiday. In 1973 the Texas Legislature consolidated it with a celebration of Jefferson Davis’ birthday to create a brand new, totally race-neutral Confederate Heroes Day. Take that you Hippie, Commie, agitators. Of course, any overlap on the calendar with MLK’s birthday was pure, race-blind coincidence.
Speaking of the Civil Rights struggle, I finally saw Selma and I have to say I was a little disappointed. I really expected to like it, and of course its subject is important and intrinsically interesting, but the film just did not hang together very well.

I liked the use of FBI reports throughout the film, but I think that should have been used to better effect, and bookended at the beginning and the end of the film. That surveillance really demonstrated just how fearful the powers-that-be were about the Civil Rights movement - and of course was used to torment King in his personal life. Such a powerful subject deserves a more cohesive, powerful approach. I enjoyed the movie, but not as much as I thought I would.

The real place to go for an understanding of the Civil Rights movement is the series "Eyes on the Prize."