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Opinion | What do you value, Alabama?

There’s no reason Alabama has to maintain its hate-based holidays honoring traitors when there are so many better options.

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Wasn’t Juneteenth nice? 

A mid-week holiday honoring something good and decent. No embarrassment. No sheepish looks when you have to explain to your out-of-state friends why you’re off work. No trying to explain why it is your state is honoring the births of men who weren’t born in Alabama, didn’t much care for Alabama and did absolutely nothing for Alabama. 

That was Juneteenth. 

And also Rosa Parks Day – another day that would make a fine holiday, instead of the simple “commemoration” it currently receives. 

That’s right, Alabama gives official holiday status to two traitors to the county – Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis – and only “recognizes” Juneteenth and the birth of one of the baddest, bravest women to ever walk the planet (Juneteenth was only a state holiday this year because Gov. Kay Ivey declared it so. While that’s very commendable on her part, it shouldn’t fall to her).

I suppose it comes down to a simple question of values. 

And for now – and maybe forever – Alabama’s leaders have decided they value more two men who fought to enslave, demean, torture, murder and deny basic rights to people with dark skin instead of valuing the day that original sin was officially stopped and the Alabama woman who sparked the Civil Rights Movement. 

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It’s disgusting. Truly. 

Because these things matter. They really do signal to people what this state values and honors. Not because it’s a stupid state holiday, but because a choice is being made. 

Every year that goes by, we choose to continue to honor Davis, who stated long after the Civil War that he’d do it all again, and Lee, a slave owner who could have easily chosen loyalty to the country he served but instead fought to keep humans in bondage. 

And every year, we continue to choose not to honor Alabama-born heroes who fought for decency and goodness and honor and democracy. 

Not just Civil Rights Movement heroes. There are literally hundreds of men and women deserving of honor – war heroes, social justice heroes, famed authors, great athletes who changed sports. 

Choosing any of those people would be a step in the right direction. A step away from hate and cruelty. 

Because that’s all we’re doing by maintaining the Lee and Davis holidays – we’re wallowing in spite and cruelty towards Black Alabamians. 

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Deep down, every person knows that’s true. We all know that there is no good reason to honor either man with state holidays. We know that there is nothing good and decent about what they fought for. We know that continuing to honor them only furthers this ignorant fight based on skin color. 

I suppose that’s exactly what some state leaders want. They need the fight to maintain relevancy. They need the racism because without it they might have to do real work. 

For the rest of us, spending a day honoring something good was a fantastic change. 

It sure would be nice to have more days like that.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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