It appears the birthdays of Confederate figures Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee will remain as official state holidays in Florida despite efforts to remove them from state statutes.
Efforts to remove both designations–even though neither birthday is officially celebrated by Florida–have appeared to run into a dead end in this year’s legislative session.
Back in October, state Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Coral Springs, filed a bill that would officially remove the birthdays of Davis and Lee from statue saying it was time to close the chapter on the most divisive part of our nation’s history.
Moskowitz noted these days exist alongside the birthdays of Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and Susan B. Anthony as legal holidays in Florida statutes.
“When I think of who should be honored with legal holidays, the types of people who come to mind are not those that cost millions of lives in the defense of slavery,” declared Moskowitz. “I’m positive that celebrating racism shouldn’t be on the calendar each year. It’s not erasing history to put it where it belongs; in a history book or a museum hall.”
Moskowitz’s bill also would have wiped out a third designated holiday, Confederate Memorial Day, on April 26.
But the bill never got a hearing. Thursday morning, the House Government Accountability committee–the committee Moskowitz’s bill was assigned to–met for the final time and the bill was not on the agenda.
Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount Dora, the chairwoman of the Oversight, Transparency and Administration Subcommittee, which was also assigned the bill, says the committee simply ran out of time to take up the legislation.
Sullivan told the Tampa Bay Times that even though it was a timing issue, she also said she personally opposed the idea of removing history from state statutes.
“We ran out of time,” Sullivan said before voicing opposition to the bill. “I would say it’s important to remember our past so that we don’t repeat it. I don’t think history, even perhaps the parts that I’m not so proud of, I don’t think we should try to remove its aspects.”
The Senate version of the bill was approved earlier this week in a committee. But, with the House choosing not to take up the legislation, the measure is dead..