Three Southern states are taking this Martin Luther King day to honor the man who fought to liberate white Southerners from Northern oppression.
Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama for years have observed a joint holiday for King and Confederate General Robert E. Lee, whose birthdays are just four days apart.
Though the shared day may seem odd from the outside, the causes of the war are hotly disputed, according to historical historian Rev. Jed Isionist.
“Many will point to things like South Carolina’s declaration of secession and have you think the Nation’s split and eventual Civil War were over the silly little institution of slavery,” said Rev. Isionist. “Just because the great Southern States repeatedly cited the preservation of slavery against perceived Northern hostility towards the institution as the cause of secession doesn’t mean it wasn’t about states’ rights.”
“The Union had no right to go around imposing human rights on those who didn’t want them, or responding to military force with military force,” added Rev. Isionist. “Lee attempted to defend us against the Union’s moral tyranny.”
Lee would have been 209 today.