LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Governor of Arkansas wants to separate the state’s joint recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee.
In Arkansas, the third Monday in January is dedicated to both the Civil Rights leader and the Confederate General.
Arkansas is one of only three states with the combined holiday–something Governor, Asa Hutchinson hopes legislators will change.
“I would like to see his special day, his Martin Luther King day, be a separate day to himself,” said Hutchinson at a press conference earlier this month.
Hutchinson’s comments comes on the heels of failed legislation that would have separated the days of the historical figures.
The bill would have created a “Southern Heritage Day,” that would have been observed in November.
“I think it should be changed,” says Yellville resident, Gerriann Danner. “Then you won’t give recognition to both; you want people to learn about both.”
“Robert E. Lee was a southern General and Martin Luther King Jr. was a civil rights activist,” says Harrison resident, Jeff Gates. “It does seem odd that they would have the same day.”
Many of the Arkansas residents KOLR 10 spoke with agreed with the Governor, but also felt a separate day should be set aside to remember Lee.
“They still suffered losses, and that’s not something that was good,” says Gates. “I think it is good to remember that.”
However, some residents didn’t feel the joint holiday was worth fighting over, let alone, worth passing new legislation.
“I don’t think it’s something we ought to argue about in Arkansas,” says Harrison resident, David Evans.
“I knew it was Martin Luther King Day; I know that’s important to a lot of people in Arkansas, and I appreciate that,” he says. “Robert E Lee was an important figure in our history.”
Hutchinson didn’t say if an additional memorial day should be created to honor Robert E. Lee, but stressed that Martin Luther King’s efforts should be remembered each January.
“It’s important that day be distinguished and focused on that civil rights struggle,” Hutchinson said, “and what [Martin Luther King] personally did in that effort.”