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Governor says he's proud to commemorate King 'on his own day'; holiday 1st since state since removed Lee

by Jillian Kremer | January 15, 2018 at 3:19 p.m.
=FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2018, file photo, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks to reporters in Little Rock, Ark., about his proposed budget for the coming fiscal year. The Republican governor has proposed adding a work requirement to the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion. GOP leaders from several states are cheering the Trump administration's decision to allow such requirements for Medicaid. (AP Photo/Andrew DeMillo, File)

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he was proud to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "on his own day" as Monday marked the first time the state did not commemorate the civil-rights leader alongside confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

In a statement, the governor asked Arkansans to join him "as we reflect on the courage of a man who marched for equality; the vision of a man who, in the face of hate and hostility, saw what could be; and the legacy of a man who brought a nation together.”

In March, Hutchinson signed Senate Bill 519 into law, ending the dual holiday. He said at the time that the separation would be a "healing moment for the state."

The bill set aside the second Saturday in October to honor Lee with a memorial day, not a state holiday, marked by a gubernatorial proclamation. It also expanded what is taught in schools about the Civil War and civil rights.

In December, Baxter County passed an ordinance to make the birthday of the civil-rights leader a paid holiday for county employees, making it official in all 75 counties of the state.

Hutchinson also on Monday hosted an interfaith prayer breakfast and spoke on the steps of the state Capitol after Little Rock's "Marade."

Read Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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