A proposal that would end legal holidays marking the birthdays of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis, along with Confederate Memorial Day, has been revived in the Florida Senate. The measure (SB 250), filed Friday by Senate Minority Leader Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, would also do away with statutory protections for Confederate flags and emblems.
State law makes it unlawful for people and companies to sell or advertise merchandise that includes either Florida’s state flag or emblem or any of the flags or emblems used by the Confederate States. Included in the ban are the flags and emblems used by the “military or naval forces of the Confederate States at any time within the years 1860 to 1865.” The law notes that Confederate flags and other items can be used for “decorative or patriotic purposes.” Lee’s birthday, Jan. 19, and Confederate Memorial Day, April 26, have been legal holidays in Florida since 1895. Davis’ June 3 birthday was added in 1905.
The three Confederate holidays are not paid holidays for public employees in the Sunshine State, however. Florida is one of five states that have kept Confederate Memorial Day a legal holiday.
Book filed the proposal for consideration during the 2022 legislative session, which will begin Jan. 11. In past sessions, similar proposals have drawn objections from people who argued the changes would erase Southern history.