Mississippi governor secretly designates April 'Confederate Heritage Month'

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Gov. Tate Reeves is facing criticism over his slow response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves quietly signed a proclamation on Friday designating April "Confederate Heritage Month."

Reeves is currently facing heavy criticism over his delayed response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reeves' proclamation was posted by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, according to a report on Sunday by the Jackson Free Press, but did not appear to be publicized elsewhere. His office did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the designation.

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"WHEREAS, State law declares the the last Monday of April as Confederate Memorial Day, a legal holiday to honor those who served the Confederacy, and WHEREAS, as we honor all who lost their lives in this war, it is important for all Americans to reflect upon our nation's past," the proclamation read.

It specified that Mississippians should "carefully and earnestly strive to understand and appreciate our heritage and our opportunities which lie before us."

Former Gov. Phil Bryant signed similar proclamations in 2016 and 2017. The governments of six other states — Florida, Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas — have also designated their own Confederate Heritage Months for several years.

Reeves, meanwhile, has been under fire for his handling of the coronavirus. Days after Mississippi mayors issued orders to enforce social distancing, Reeves appeared to override them by declaring most businesses "essential" in a March 24 executive order. Reeves claimed that the move was about rejecting "dictatorship models like China" and followed the advice of "experts."

At the same time, he vowed to shut down abortion providers during the crisis.

Last week, Reeves finally joined the vast majority of governors by issuing a statewide "stay at home" order.

Mississippi has already reported more than 1,600 COVID-19 cases and 43 deaths from the disease.

According to the Jackson Free Press, Reeves has longstanding ties to the Sons of Confederate Veterans. In 2013, he spoke to the group — which believes the "preservation of liberty and freedom was the motivating factor in the South's decision to fight the Second American Revolution" — while standing in front of a giant Confederate flag.

As a college student at Millsaps College in Jackson in the 1990s, Reeves was a member of the Kappa Alpha fraternity. During his time there, the fraternity reportedly held a party featuring Afro wigs, Confederate flags, and attendees in blackface, and posted Confederate imagery in school yearbooks.

A spokesperson told the Jackson Free Press last year, "Like every other college student, he did attend costume formals and other parties, and across America, Kappa Alpha's costume formal is traditionally called Old South in honor of the Civil War veteran who founded the fraternity in the 1800s."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.