Alabama, Mississippi mark Confederate Memorial Day

National & World

COLUMBIA, SC – JUNE 27: Demonstrators protest at the South Carolina State House calling for the Confederate flag to remain on the State House grounds June 27, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. Earlier in the week South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley expressed support for removing the Confederate flag from the State House grounds in the wake of the nine murders at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — State offices were closed Monday in Alabama and Mississippi for Confederate Memorial Day, which a watchdog group used to call for the removal of additional monuments to the Confederacy.

The Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center, in a statement, said Confederate symbols erected by Southern heritage groups were used by white supremacists “as tools of racial terror” and said 170 were removed across the nation last year.

“We recognize that removing these symbols is only the first step. We must work for racial justice and an honest reckoning with our country’s past and present. That cannot be accomplished by removing a memorial or renaming a school, but it is a necessary step,” said the statement.

Alabama and Mississippi have two more Confederate-related state holidays besides Confederate Memorial Day. Both states jointly observe Robert E. Lee Day with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January, and Alabama marks the birthday of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in February. Mississippi marks Davis’s birthday on federal Memorial Day in May.

Confederate Memorial Day was made a state holiday in Alabama in 1901, the same year the state’s Constitution, which was intended to guarantee white supremacy, was approved.

South Carolina will mark Confederate Memorial Day on May 10. Texas observes Confederate Heroes Day in January.

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