Rep. Matthew Willard offers a bill to remove Confederate holidays from Louisiana’s official calendar to the House Judiciary Committee. (JC Canicosa/Louisiana Illuminator)
The New Orleans lawmaker who wants to end official state recognition of Confederate holidays in Louisiana told his colleagues that he has received death threats over the proposal.
House Bill 248, authored by Rep. Matthew Willard, would remove Robert E. Lee Day and Confederate Memorial Day from the state’s legal holiday calendar. The bill has advanced from the House and was debated Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary A Committee.
“My office actually received a voicemail that I had to have investigated because a gentleman called and said that I should be dragged out onto the lawn of the State Capitol and executed,” Willard said to the committee.
He added that he’s going to continue carrying the bill “because it’s the right thing to do.”
Willard’s bill advanced out of committee with a 4-2 vote and now moves to the Senate floor for final passage. Sens. Robert Mills, R-Minden, and Heather Cloud, R-Ville Platte, voted against the legislation.
Critics of the proposal said they believed the Confederate holidays should stay in the books so that future generations don’t forget the country’s history.
“Even those ugly markers (of history), they memorialize what it took to get us here,” Cloud said.
Sen. Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria, who voted in favor of the bill, said he agrees the history should be remembered but not commemorated.
“This is a constant annual reminder to the African-American people of the state of Louisiana of slavery,” Luneau said. “When we have these holidays, we’re celebrating something.”
An amendment authored by Luneau to keep Huey P. Long Day, celebrated on Aug. 30, from the state holiday calendar passed in the Senate committee. Long served as Louisiana governor from 1928 to 1932 and in the U.S. Senate from 1932 until his assassination in 1935.
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