BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Two Confederate holidays would be erased from Louisiana law under legislation approved 4-2 Tuesday by a state Senate committee.
The House-passed bill by Rep. Matthew Willard, a New Orleans Democrat, goes next to the full Senate.
Neither Confederate Memorial Day nor the day honoring Gen. Robert E. Lee have been observed in Louisiana for years. They are among a list of holidays a governor can proclaim in addition to other, permanent holidays that include Christmas and Independence Day. The governor is limited in the number he can proclaim in a year.
Willard said the two holidays, in effect, celebrate slavery and those who fought to preserve it in the Civil War.
“They pay homage to what I consider to be the darkest time in our country’s history,” Willard said.
As amended by the Senate Judiciary Committee A on Tuesday, the list of optional holidays still would include President’s Day, National Memorial Day and a day honoring Huey P. Long, the former Louisiana governor and U.S. senator.
Committee chairman Barrow Peacock, a Republican from the Shreveport-Bossier area, was among the bill’s opponents. He said the holidays should be seen as memorials and markers of history that should be remembered.
“I, too, would say we need to remember our history,” said Sen. Jay Luneau, an Alexandria Democrat. “However, we should not commemorate it.”