Snodgrass: Reeves’ ‘Confederate Heritage Month’ is a disgrace to our state


Miranda Pederson, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Mississippi Governor, Tate Reeves, declared April as “Confederate Heritage Month.”

By Jillian Snodgrass, The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science

Mississippi’s government repeatedly brings shame upon our state and its citizens through ridiculous measures and laws. The latest? Governor Tate Reeves’ designation of April as “Confederate Heritage Month.” Not only is this designation completely unnecessary, it is blatantly disrespectful to those the Confederacy harmed.

The exact wording of the declaration is as follows: “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.”

This may sound harmless on the surface, but why not designate a month for historical remembrance and education rather than “Confederate heritage”? Instead, we should take time to honor Mississippi’s Civil Rights activists. This would truly allow Mississippi’s citizens to “come to a full understanding” of our past.

Dedicating a month to Confederate heritage may as well be dedicating a month to white supremacy. That is what the Southern states fought in the Civil War to uphold. Reeves is either incredibly naive and believes that such a dedication will not result in an increase in white supremacist activities in Mississippi, or he simply doesn’t care. I’m unsure which is worse.

Reeves’ approval of a new state flag without the Confederate bars and stars back in January now appears to have been an empty, performative action meant to satisfy our state’s left-leaning population without taking any steps toward real progress. That’s not to say that a new flag wasn’t necessary, rather that the approval of “Confederate Heritage Month” negates whatever good was done previously.

The idea of “Confederate Heritage Month” attempts to paint a picture of brave young men fighting for “states’ rights” or to “keep their culture”. In reality, the Civil War was fought to maintain slavery. That is the very last thing we should be honoring in any way, shape or form, no matter how many white Southern men died defending it. The Confederacy was a monstrosity, an affront to what should be the United States and a disregard for basic human rights. Anyone who believes they are patriotic by supporting Confederate heritage is kidding themself.

Countless more African Americans died in slavery than did white men of the Confederacy in the Civil War, attempting to uphold that horrible institution. Where are their well-maintained cemeteries, memorials and days of honor? Nowhere to be found.

As a state, we must learn to honor the better aspects of our history and learn about but simultaneously deplore the darker sides of the story.

Mississippi is already seen as a hopeless case by many other, more progressive states. Creating a month to celebrate and honor the worst aspect of our state’s history only worsens others’ view of it as backward, ignorant and racist. We can’t move forward and improve our state’s future if we keep returning to dwell on the past, reliving what some mistakenly believe to have been the “good old days”. By doing so, Mississippi is quite simply sabotaging itself.

This story was originally published on The Vision MSMS on April 30, 2021.