The Southern Poverty Law Center denounced a proclamation signed by Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves that makes April Confederate Heritage Month.
Reeves, who signed the measure on April 8, also named April Genocide Prevention and Awareness Month. Unlike Confederate Heritage Month, he shared news of the proclamation on social media and in an official statement on his website.
“April is the month, in 1861, the American Civil War began between the Confederate and Union armies, reportedly the deadliest war ever on American soil,” the proclamation reads.
“As we honor all who lost their lives in this war, it is important for all Americans to reflect upon our nation’s past, to gain insight from our mistakes and successes, and to come to a full understanding that the lessons learned yesterday and today will carry us through tomorrow if we carefully and earnestly strive to understand and appreciate our heritage and our opportunities which lie before us,” the document concludes.
The Mississippi Free Press first reported about the 2022 Confederate Heritage Month proclamation after an image of the proclamation was shared on Facebook by the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ Camp 265 Rankin Rough & Ready.
The outlet notes Reeves was “keeping a tradition alive that his predecessors began 29 years ago.”
Reeves was questioned about the proclamation at a press conference on April 13. He acknowledged he had signed the measure “in the same manner and fashion that the five governors that came before me, Republicans and Democrats alike, for over 30 years have done.”
“And we did it again this year,” Reeves said. “Didn’t think this was the year to stop doing it.”
Reeves has also signed policies that end the use of Confederate imagery by the state government.
He signed into law a bill removing the Confederate flag from the state flag on June 30, 2020.
“This is not a political moment but a solemn occasion to lead our Mississippi family to come together, to reconcile, and to move on,” Reeves said in his formal address at the time. “Whether you are proud of this step or angry with us over the process, I want you to know that I love you. I am praying for you. And I know healing will not happen by a bill, or by a politician, or by a legislative body. I must be done neighbor to neighbor, brother to brother, sister to sister, together as a family.”
The SPLC issued a statement on April 15 condemning the Confederate Heritage Month proclamation.
“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,” said SPLC-Mississippi State Director Waikinya Clanton. “His undermining of the public trust by hypercritically observing April as Genocide Awareness Month and Confederacy Heritage Month is a clear contradiction of forward-facing direction the people of Mississippi are seeking to advance our beloved state.”
“Instead of focusing on these symbols of hate, Governor Reeves should be focused on working in the best interests of all Mississippians, starting by expanding Medicaid, expanding access to the ballot for all Mississippians and protect the accurate accounting and telling of inclusive history,” she added.
Mississippi also recognizes the last Monday of April as Confederate Memorial Day, as do a number of other southern states such as Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina.