Twitter users unleashed torrential backlash against the city of Biloxi, Mississippi after it referred to Martin Luther King Day as “Great Americans Day.”
“Non-emergency municipal offices in Biloxi will be closed on Monday in observance of Great Americans Day,” the city announced Friday in a tweet that has been deleted.
— Erick Fernandez (@ErickFernandez) January 14, 2017
— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) January 14, 2017
The social media reaction on Twitter and Facebook, where a similar announcement was posted, was immediate and fiery.
What the hell is Great Americans Day? https://t.co/gPRFcUixoB
— Jax YW (@TriniJax) January 14, 2017
Whoever came up with Great Americans Day to Replace MLK Day in Biloxi is a moron
— TheCommonSenseHour (@CommonSenseHour) January 14, 2017
— Joseph Wallace (@wallace_joseph) January 14, 2017
The City of Biloxi calling MLK Day “Great Americans Day”, is equivalent of saying “All Days Matter”. #smh
— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) January 14, 2017
— Large ☀️☀️of Anarchy (@JumpinJackFlask) January 14, 2017
Neither Martin Luther King, Jr. Day nor “Great Americans Day” are listed as state holidays on the government of Mississippi’s website. But both King and Gen. Robert E. Lee’s birthdays are listed and observed by the state on the third Monday of January.
According to WLOX:
Representatives for the City of Biloxi declined to comment, only saying the name change to honor King and Confederate Army Gen. Robert E. Lee was part of state legislature.
Miss. Code Ann. § 3-3-7 states that the third Monday of the month is to be observed for the birthdays of both men. The code does not state the renaming.
However, archived notes from the City of Biloxi’s website show that the name change was introduced to City Council on Dec. 23, 1985; and approved on Dec. 31, 1985.
— Rose Nissen (@RoseNissen) January 14, 2017
Following the barrage of criticism, the city tried to explain itself, calling it a “state-named holiday.”
— WLOX (@WLOX) January 14, 2017
The city of Biloxi also responded with a statement, citing Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich’s call for the city council to “update the city’s Code of Ordinances to reflect the official federal name of the holiday, ‘Birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,’ commonly known as ‘Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.'”
From Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich: “As far as I’m concerned, it’s called ‘Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.'”
— City of Biloxi (@CityofBiloxi) January 14, 2017
“In my opinion, that is the appropriate step to take, for the holiday to have the same name as the federal holiday,” Gilich said. “This city’s longstanding support of our annual MLK celebrations speaks volumes about our support for this holiday. In fact, we’ve always celebrated this day as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.”
— Patrick Schmidt (@PatrickASchmidt) January 14, 2017
Alabama and Arkansas join Mississippi as the only three states that currently combine the celebration of King and Lee’s birthdays, WLOX reported.
Considering the heat Biloxi just took, Mississippi may be on its way to making a change.
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