- Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves proclaimed April Confederate Heritage Month.
- Local leaders and journalists questioned the decision to have it coincide with Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month.
- Reeves defended the decision during a press conference on April 8.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has sparked backlash after proclaiming April both Confederate Heritage Month and Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month.
“As we honor all who lost their lives in the war, it is important for all Americans to reflect upon our nation’s past,” the proclamation read.
He also said that Mississippians should “understand and appreciate our heritage.”
Reeves also declared April Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month.
The backlash comes as local journalists and leaders point out the irony of having the two celebrations occur during the same month. The Confederacy famously fought for the right to continue the institution of slavery.
The Mississippi Free Press first reported the decree. Reeves defended his decision during a press conference on April 8 by stating that he was carrying out a tradition that his predecessors had established.
“And we did it again this year, didn’t think this was the year to stop doing it,” Reeves said to a reporter, who had asked him if genocide awareness and confederate heritage would conflate.
Former Democratic Governor Ray Mabus condemned Reeves in a series of Tweets, saying that the proclamation sounded like an endorsement of “critical race theory” rhetoric.
“Heritage of Confederacy is treason and slavery,” Mabus wrote. “We should learn from those things just maybe not in way he imagines.”
Waikinya Clanton, the Mississippi State Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, also wrote a statement condemning Reeves for his decision to continue the decree.
“Despite every effort from the people of Mississippi to pave a new way forward, leaders like Governor Reeves remain fixated on undermining the public’s will for a brighter, better, and more inclusive Mississippi,” Clanton said. “It is unfortunate that the governor chooses to glorify the Confederacy — a traitorous government that fought against the United States for the right to enslave Blacks.”
Reeves retired the old Mississippi flag, which featured a Confederate emblem on it, in 2020.
A representative for Reeves did not immediately respond to a request for comment.