State Rep. plans to file legislation to eliminate Confederate holidays in Kentucky

08/15/2017 02:31 PM

LOUISVILLE – Kentucky State Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, plans to file legislation for the 2018 session that does away with Confederate-related holidays in the state.

“I think it’s important that we as Kentuckians say who we are,” Nemes said. “I decided that I’m going to prefile a bill to get rid of the Jefferson Davis holiday and the Confederate Memorial holiday.”

However, Nemes wanted to make clear that this is not about the removal of statues. He says that he believes those statues represent history and are something people should learn from.

“This bill is not about revising history, this bill is not about taking down statues on streets and corners and so forth,” Nemes said. “Because that is history, that is something we should learn from.”

Nemes believes that the difference between removing a statue and a state holiday is that he views a holiday as celebratory and a statue has a historical lesson.

“If it’s a statue on the street, I think that is to understand history,” Nemes said. “We should take our children there. Talk about the particular person that’s depicted in the statue, and say, here’s the good, here’s the bad, here’s what they were all about.”

Nemes went on to say, “That I think, when we place it in the historical context, that I think is mighty different than what we choose to venerate. When we choose what our state holidays are, that’s not about historical understanding.”

Nemes’s announcement comes after violence over the weekend in Charlottesville, VA when white nationalist protesting the removal of a Confederate statue clashed with counter protesters.

Nemes says that it is important for everyone to take a stand, no matter the party.

“While this bill doesn’t have anything to do with Republican or Democrat, it is in line, I think, with what I think my party ought to be and what my party is,” Nemes said.

Nemes explained that he sees the Republican Party as the party of President Abraham Lincoln and the party has an obligation to stand for what is morally right.

“What is right morally is not to stand with the people in Charlottesville, the white supremacist and Nazis at Charlottesville, but to stand against them,” Nemes said.

Nemes says he has received calls of support for eliminating the holidays. He says he doesn’t foresee much push back against the legislation he plans to file.

As for removing statues, Nemes believes there needs to be a larger debate first.

“I don’t think there will be much decent on the holiday question,” Nemes said. “You know the statue question lets us have a larger debate. I’m on the side of leaving them up, but let’s have that larger debate.”

Madeline Janicki

Madeline is a producer for Spectrum News. You can watch her work on Pure Politics, the only statewide nightly show dedicated solely to Kentucky Politics. Madeline is an Indiana native and received her degree in Communications from Indiana University. Her background is as a news producer but her passion for civic engagement and drive to bring voters information on issues that impact their lives brought her to Pure Politics. Here she gets to work on projects like her multi-part digital series on how the national group Teach For America is working in Eastern Kentucky Schools. If you have a story idea, email her at Madeline.Janicki@charter.com.

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