Texas recognized two holidays this week: Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday and the state's Confederate Heroes Day on Friday. The state holiday continues despite national protests and handwringing over statues and monuments relating to Confederate military figures.
In 2015 and 2017, some Texas lawmakers attempted to change the holiday's name to Civil War Remembrance Day. The lawmakers also wanted to move the date to so it wasn't so close to Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But the measure never moved forward, reports state.
“We’re not talking about wiping out that part of history — or those that may be our family members who fought in the Confederacy,” state Rep. Donna Howard, a Democrat who authored the 2015 proposal, told the Texas Tribune. “But we are saying that it needs to be inclusive of everyone else and reflect the way we want to recognize what happened ... and the fact that we are the United States now.”
State employees were allowed to take Friday off with pay. State offices remained open and were staffed with a skeleton crew. Employees who chose to work are able to take off another paid day, according to the Tribune.
What is the background on Confederate Heroes Day?
Texas has celebrated Confederate Heroes Day since 1973. At the time, lawmakers consolidated two state holidays: the Jan. 19 birthday of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and the June 3 birthday of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, according to the Tribune.
Other states with holidays celebrating Confederate soldiers are South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Virginia, Tennessee, and Louisiana.
A national debate about whether Confederate figures should be honored has led to violence and bad feelings on both sides of the issue.
In August, white nationalists and supremacists rallied to stop the city from removing a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia. Counterprotesters also showed up, and the rally was marked with violence that left a woman dead and many injured.
Texas has also been touched by the controversy. The University of Texas at Austin removed four Confederate statues from its campus in August after college president Gregory Fenves called them "symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism.”
In December, two Confederate statues were removed from parks in Memphis after the city sold the parks to a nonprofit group.
Where else have Confederate statues been taken down?
Fox News has a running list of cities across the nation where Confederate statues and monuments have been removed. The list includes:
Brooklyn, New York
Daytona Beach, Florida
Durham, North Carolina
Kansas City, Missouri
St. Petersburg, Florida