Confederate Flag Day Still Celebrated in Arkansas, But That Might Change

Two Arkansas state politicians proposed repealing Confederate Flag Day, a state holiday celebrated on the Saturday before Easter Sunday. State Rep. Andrew Collins, a Democrat, and State Sen. Breanne Davis, a Republican, filed the bill on Friday, Jan. 15. The move joins a growing list of calls to stop celebrating Confederacy symbols in light of racial injustice protests last year.

Collins and Davis' bill simply asks the General Assembly of the State of Arkansas to repeal the Confederate Flag Day holiday. The Confederate flag is considered offensive and a symbol of racism for many, with Ku Klux Klan members, neo-Nazis, and other white supremacists groups carrying it. One person even carried it inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot, a sight not even seen during the Civil War. After George Floyd's death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer inspired renewed protests against racial inequality in the U.S., Confederate flags were banned at military installations and NASCAR events. Walmart (based in Arkansas) and Amazon both said they would stop selling it and merchandise with the flag's image.

In June 2020, Mississippi lawmakers agreed to finally change the state flag, which was the last remaining one to include the Confederate battle flag image. In November, Mississippi voters picked a new design to replace the old one, and it was formally adopted on Jan. 11. The new flag features a white magnolia with 20 stars to represent Mississippi as the 20th state to enter the Union. There is also a special gold star on the flag to represent the indigenous Native American tribes that lived in Mississippi before Europeans arrived.

While Mississippi's reference to the Confederacy was the most obvious among state flags, Arkansas has a relatively obscure one. The flag famously has three stars under the name "Arkansas," which is meant to represent the three different countries that ruled over the land before Arkansas became a state, France Spain, and the U.S. In 1923, the state legislature added a fourth star above the state's name, notes THV11. This was a reference to the Confederacy. In 1987, the state legislature passed another act to confirm that the star referenced the Confederacy. The governor at the time, future President Bill Clinton, signed the act, notes HuffPost. More recently, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he would support changing the meaning of the fourth star. However, the legislation died in committee twice and never reached the floor for a vote.