GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi is one of only two states that is still honoring Confederate Memorial Day this year. All state government offices will be closed Monday to commemorate those Southerners who died in the Civil War after the South tried seceding from the U.S.
Members of Mississippi Rising Coalition, however, see it differently. They say it's a taxpayer-funded holiday that celebrates the Confederate States seceding as a means of maintaining slavery.
"I'm troubled that in a state made up of 40% people of color, our leadership continues to openly sanction the use of taxpayer funds to endorse a neo-Confederate agenda," said Lea Campbell, president of MRC, in a press release.
On Saturday, Confederate Memorial Day was celebrated at Beauvoir, the last home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. A book fair, picnic and Laying of the Wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier helped commemorate the Southern holiday. The Shieldsboro Rifles branch of the Sons of Confederate Veterans were there, outfitted in traditionally Southern historic attire.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans organization says they want to preserve the history and legacy of those who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War for future generations.
Campbell, however, says the past can be honored without the need for Confederate Memorial Day.
"It is time to move forward," said Campbell. "We can be proud Southerners and honor our heritage and the sacrifices made by our ancestors without use of taxpayer funds to promote a racially unjust agenda."
The Magnolia State, however, isn't alone in honoring the Confederate holiday. Alabama still recognizes the day, as well. South Carolina also holds a Confederate Memorial Day in May to mark the day Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson died. Georgia used to mark the holiday, but removed the Confederate reference two years ago, now referring to it as simply a State Holiday.
Mississippi Rising Coalition will protest the holiday Monday from 3-5 p.m. on the steps of the First Judicial District Courthouse in Gulfport. They will also hold a similar protest in Hattiesburg. In doing so, they say they hope "to raise public awareness regarding ongoing institutional racism and systemic injustices faced by people of color in Mississippi."