Democratic Sen. Lauren Book is returning to a years-long quest to remove three Confederate celebrations from the list of state-recognized holidays.
Book has backed similar legislation for years. During the upcoming Session, her newest form of the bill (SB 1116) will serve as a companion measure to legislation filed by Democratic Rep. Michael Grieco in the House.
“As a State, we must underscore diversity and undercut tributes to Confederacy, which upheld the institution of slavery,” Book said Tuesday.
“With the hate and divisiveness we’re seeing today, it is more important than ever to condemn racism and reaffirm that we are indeed ‘one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all’ — not just for some.”
Florida law recognizes birthdays for Confederate President Jefferson Davis (June 3) and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee (Jan. 19) as state-sanctioned holidays. The same goes for Confederate Memorial Day on April 26.
Those days aren’t full holidays where state workers are given paid time off. But critics have bemoaned the fact they’re highlighted in state law, as much of the national conversation in recent years has focused on reexamining the Confederate flag and spotlighting the ongoing threat from current White supremacist groups.
Book first filed a version of this legislation in 2017, shortly after the deadly White supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. More recently, the Jan. 6 Capitol riot featured a trespasser carrying around a Confederate flag. That mob action was largely driven by Donald Trump supporters driven by the President’s false claims that the election was stolen. That crowd included several right-wing agitators and White supremacists.
Last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a proclamation commemorating Juneteenth, a day celebrated as the final end of slavery in the United States. That move recognized the day, but did not elevate it to a state holiday.
Grieco backed those pushing for reassessing the state’s priorities in a statement on his bill in December.
“As we have seen shifts in how and who we formally celebrate, it seems only appropriate that Florida participate in the modern shifting views of the Confederacy and what it stood for,” Grieco said.
“By removing these ‘holidays’ from state law we are sending the same message sent by Mississippi voters when they changed their state flag.”
After nationwide social justice protests last year, Mississippi approved a potential redesign of its state flag, removing the Confederate battle flag. In November, voters approved the new design as the state’s official flag.