MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Today, state workers across Alabama got a day off for the birthday of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America.
Alabama is the last state in the country with a formal holiday honoring Davis’ birthday.
To some in Alabama, Jefferson Davis is a point of pride. He was sworn in as the Confederacy’s president in their first capital in Montgomery. Memorials Chairman for the Raphael Semmes Camp 11 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans AJ DuPree said that by helping to found the Confederate States of America, Davis represents Alabama’s state motto “We Dare Defend Our Rights.”
“There are Englishmen who would say that the states who formed the first confederacy should not have been able to form it and their own country and they’d both be wrong,” said DuPree.
DuPree argued Davis is an honorable historical figure worth emulating.
“There’s no reason to degenerate or dishonor persons who demonstrate the kind of valor as a military veteran, as a politician, and as president of the Confederate States,” he said.
Feelings on marking Davis’ birthday with a statewide holiday come down to a debate over what’s honorable.
“To commemorate a holiday has to do with honor and there’s no honor in being a seditionist,” said Rev. Jim Flowers, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Mobile.
Flowers has supported progressive causes like Black Lives Matter and said the Davis holiday is an embarrassment.
“Honoring the dignity of every human being and to honor a member of the Confederate leadership is to honor something that’s dishonorable,” said Flowers. In the last year, we’ve seen large Alabama cities like Mobile and Birmingham remove Confederate statues from public spaces but there appear to be no plans to change this holiday.