While the nation and Arkansas celebrated Martin Luther King day with Parades and closed federal agencies, there was another, quieter state holiday here in the natural state. The third Monday in January is also Robert E. Lee day here. An interesting contrast to say the least.
From KARK 4 News
UALR Civil War historian Carl Moneyhon explains the complexities of the third Monday in January. While it is a federal holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it is also a state holiday to recognize confederate army general Robert E. Lee.
“He was a firm believer in the cause that he fought for. The cause was not necessarily a good one. I don’t think he had any doubts that slavery was a major issue.”
“It’s pretty clear, he made his decision based on Virginia’s secession. He went with the confederacy because his state did.”
“After the war, rather than continuing the war, continuing to fight, he basically counseled his soldiers to go home, to go back to work and renew their place in the union. And he dedicated much of the remainder of his life to education southern men.”
“The original meaning of why Lee was celebrated [his heroism] has been lost. I think the Lee celebration today has an awful lot of different meanings to different people.”
“It’s not clear at all, exactly how he felt on the issue of slavery. He owned slaves. His family owned slaves. He showed no real interest in emancipating those slaves.