Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves is defending his decision to again designate April as Confederate Heritage Month in a state where nearly 40 percent of residents are Black on Friday according to AP News.

The proclamation comes as a surprise as Reeves signed a law retiring the Mississippi state flag—the last state flag in the U.S.—that featured a Confederate battle emblem, just shy of two years ago. Voters approved a new flag including a magnolia.

In 2020, Reeves said on live TV before signing, “This is not a political moment to me but a solemn occasion to lead our Mississippi family to come together, to be reconciled and to move on. We are a resilient people defined by our hospitality. We are a people of great faith. Now, more than ever, we must lean on that faith, put our divisions behind us, and unite for a greater good.”

Mississippi Free Press reported, Reeves’s proclamation says “we honor all who lost their lives in this war” and “it is important for all Americans to reflect upon our nation’s past, to gain insight from our mistakes and successes, and to come to a full understanding that the lessons learned yesterday and today will carry us through tomorrow if we carefully and earnestly strive to understand our heritage and our opportunities which lie before us.”

By definition, support of the confederacy is anti-American. The heritage behind the rebel flag represents division, but mostly the South’s desire to secede from the Union to continue with a slave-driven economy. Mississippi’s 1861 secession ordinance said: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery—the greatest material interest of the world.”

However, the proclamation does not mention slavery—but instead offered a description of genocide labeling it as “the systematic destruction of all or a significant part of a racial, ethnic, religious or national group by destroying a group’s political and social institutions, culture, language, national feelings, religion, and economic existence, and destroying the personal security, liberty, health, dignity and lives of individuals belonging to the group.”

Former Mississippi Gov. Ray Mabus, a Democrat who held the office from 1988 to 1992 and never issued a Confederate Heritage Month proclamation, criticized Reeves for doing so on Twitter.

He tweeted, “Heritage of Confederacy is treason and slavery. We should learn from those things just maybe not in way he imagines.”

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