State lawmaker: Get rid of Confederate leaders’ birthdays from Florida’s list of legal holidays

Robert E. Lee, a famous Confederate general and commander of the Confederate States Army during the Civil War. U.S. Army Fort Lee in Virginia was named after General Lee. Credit: Wikipedia

State Rep. Michael Grieco, an attorney and Democrat representing part of Miami-Dade County, has filed legislation to put an end to Florida observing public holidays that represent racism and Confederate leaders.

State Rep. Michael Grieco. Credit: FL House of Representatives.

“As we have seen (a) shift 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 in a written statement.

“By removing these ‘holidays’ from State law we are sending the same message sent by Mississippi voters when they changed their state flag last month.”

In November, Mississippi voters approved a new flag featuring a design that reads “In God We Trust” with a magnolia image, replacing “its decades-old banner that included a Confederate battle emblem,” according to CNN.

Grieco has filed the bill for the 2021 legislative session that begins in March.

According to Florida statutes, the state observes legal holidays such as celebrating Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee, whose birthday is January 19, and Jefferson Davis, whose birthday is June 3, as well as Confederate Memorial Day on April 26.

Robert E. Lee was the South’s top general during the Civil War and Jefferson Davis was the president of the Confederate states.

Grieco’s bill, HB 6007, would remove “the designations of the birthdays of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis and Confederate Memorial Day as legal holidays,” according to the bill summary.

As previously reported by the Florida Phoenix, State Rep. Fentrice Driskell, a Democrat representing part of Hillsborough County, also declared in June to “introduce legislation to repeal the Confederate holidays that are official legal holidays in Florida.”

“No world should exist in which these Confederate holidays are elevated above the contributions of these slaves, their descendants, and those who fought for their freedom,” she said in a written statement in June.