Ky. lawmaker wants to eliminate Confederate-related holidays


A Kentucky lawmaker is filing legislation for the 2018 session aimed at removing Confederate-related holidays from the list in the state’s statute. 

Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, said it includes Robert E. Lee Day on Jan. 19, along with Confederate Memorial Day and Jefferson Davis Day, both of which are observed June 3.
However, it does not include removing statues across the state, he said.

“Those are put there for historical understanding and context, and I support that,” Nemes said. “But putting things in a place of veneration is different, and I think a state holiday is a designation of something we want to venerate or celebrate. I don’t think Jefferson Davis Day comes close to meeting that threshold.

“This is not about rewriting history,” he said. “This is about what we honor at our core – and it is not Jefferson Davis.”

While saying he doesn’t want to remove statues across the state, Nemes said he agrees with Gov. Matt Bevin and U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell about removing the Jefferson Davis statue in the State Capitol Rotunda. 

“I think who we have standing in our Rotunda is an indication of what we venerate,” he said.
“There’s an argument we should keep Confederate Memorial Day. I understand that, but don’t agree with it. I think our Confederate soldiers are honored on Memorial Day.”

He hopes a message can be sent across party lines: “What we are going to celebrate and what we’re going to honor at our core in 2017 is not the leaders of the Confederacy.”

By the same token, Nemes said he is not interested in taking the obelisk from Davis’ birthplace in Fairview, Ky. 

“That’s history,” Nemes said. “I’m talking about the state’s holidays, it doesn’t get any more important than that.”

As for what prompted his proposal, Nemes said it occurred while he was watching coverage of the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend. 

“That’s what drove me to the statute books," he said. "I didn’t even know we had these holidays there.”

Nemes said he has gotten messages of support from dozens of his colleagues, but isn’t sure it will pass in 2018. 

“We’ll just have to see,” he said.