In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves still seems to have time for celebrating a racist history by proclaiming April “Confederate Heritage Month”.
According to the Jackson Free Press, Reeves signed the April 3 state proclamation only two days after he issued a statewide shelter-at-home order because of the escalating COVID-19 infections in Mississippi.
The Mississippi Sons of Confederate Veterans posted about the proclamation on Facebook. “God bless the Confederate Soldier. He shall never be forgotten. Deo Vindice!” the Mississippi SCV’s April 3 post read. “Deo Vindice,” Latin for “Under God as our Vindicator,” was on the official seal of the Confederacy and was the Confederacy’s motto.
Former Gov. Phil Bryant had quietly signed a similar proclamation in February 2016. His proclamation wasn’t included on his official page of proclamations or his official governor’s website, but it did show up on the site of Beauvoir, the Gulf Coast home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, now a museum. SCV operates both Beauvoir, including a Confederate cemetery located there, along with its website. Reeves also doesn’t seem to be broadcasting his proclamation to major news outlets or his official sites. However, groups who honor the Confederacy are clearly celebrating.
Bryant changed his tune about “Confederate Heritage Month”, however, in 2019 when he changed the name to “Unity Month”. He was reacting to a request by Unite Mississippi, a Flowood, Mississippi-based nonprofit that focuses on social and racial reconciliation among Christians in Mississippi.
Gov. Reeves spoke at SCV’s national reunion in July 2013 with a massive Confederate flag behind him and a decorative arrangement of cotton on either side. He thanked the group “for keeping history alive for our youth,” one SCV blogger later recalled. Other speakers at the event defended the Confederate’s “cause,” and portrayed notoriously racist slaveholders as heroes. One speaker even compared “the Yankees” to “the Nazis.”
“Flags and emblems are chosen by a group of people as a symbol of all that unites and ties the group together,” he wrote in a statement at the time. “The good and bad in our shared history, and all that we have learned from it, is something that ties us together. The same discussion South Carolinians are having now is one that Mississippians had 14 years ago when nearly two-thirds of our state voted to keep our current flag. If the citizens of our state want to revisit that decision, and I am sure at some point we may, it will best be decided by the people of Mississippi, not by outsiders or media elites or politicians in a back room.”