A History of Lee-Jackson-King Day

iconJohn writes to give me hell about celebrating Lee-Jackson-King Day. He wants to know a little more about how Lee-Jackson-King Day came to be.

Why should two confederates and Martin Luther King have ever shared a holiday? I would like to know who the geniouses were that created a holiday shared by these three individuals. MLK deserves his own and should have always been that way.
Well, let's look back at the history. Robert E. Lee was born on January 19, 1807. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson was born January 21, 1824. Martin Luther King Jr. was born January 15, 1929. As you can see, coincidence seems to have brought their birthdays together. If you still aren't convinced, lets dig a little deeper.

Robert E. Lee's birthday has been celebrated as a Virginia holiday since 1889. In 1904, the legislature added the birthday of Stonewall Jackson to the holiday, and Lee-Jackson Day was born. Eighty years later, Republican President Ronald Reagan declared the day in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Virginia, who since 1978 had celebrated King's Birthday in conjunction with New Years Day, made the change and simply tacked him onto Lee-Jackson Day. Thus Lee-Jackson-King Day was born.

In January of 2000, Virginia's Republican Governor James Gilmore asked the Legislature to move Lee-Jackson Day to the previous Friday, which would give Martin Luther King, Jr. a holiday of his own. The Legislature agreed, and the holidays were shuffled around, giving Commonwealth of Virginia employees a nice long 4-day weekend.

I made the personal decision to keep the three men together on one day, as a symbol of unity, justice, and a warm snuggly feeling inside. Okay, not really. Actually, I do it out of simplicity. Plus I don't see the point of having two separate holidays back to back.

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