Two weeks before the Mississippi Legislature allowed 19 state flag bills to die in committee, Gov. Phil Bryant took out a pen and signed an official governor’s proclamation, declaring the month of April “Confederate Heritage Month,” a routine occurrence in Mississippi and several other southern states.
The proclamation, which does not appear on the State of Mississippi’s website with other proclamations, such as about emergency inclement weather, is posted on the website of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which is ferociously against changing the Mississippi flag to remove the Confederate battle flag—which supporters like to call the “Beauregard flag”—from its canton.
SCV is also an organization that pushes revisionist history about the Civil War and the reasons the Confederacy formed, such as selling books by James Ronald Kennedy and his twin brother Walter Donald Kennedy at Jefferson Davis’ Gulf Coast home, Beauvoir, which SCV manages. The Kennedy brothers are founding members of the League of the South. These organizations stand in strong denial of the reasons the Confederates themselves said they seceded, joined the Confederacy and started the war—to maintain slavery, extend it to new states and force the return of fugitive slaves who had made their way to free states.
On Bryant’s gubernatorial letterhead, the proclamation starts out by explaining that April is the appropriate month to honor Confederate heritage because it “is the month in which the Confederate States began and ended a four-year struggle.” It adds that the state celebrates Confederate Memorial Day on April 25 to “recognize those who served in the Confederacy.”