Arkansas legislators voted Friday afternoon to separate Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from the holiday that celebrates the memory of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.
According to The Associated Press, the proposal cleared the state House by a vote of 66-11. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is expected to sign it into law Monday, has been a proponent of Senate Bill 519 since it was filed.
“The support for a separate holiday to recognize Martin Luther King far exceeded my expectations and speaks well of the General Assembly and our state,” Hutchinson wrote on Twitter.
The legislation will move Robert E. Lee Day from the third Monday in January, which it currently shares with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to the second Saturday in October.
With Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee both born in January, Arkansas voted to combine the two holidays in 1985, according to the AP.
Mississippi and Alabama will be the only remaining states to honor both Lee and King on the same date after this bill is signed into law. A small town in Mississippi faced outrage in January for not giving Martin Luther King Jr. Day its proper title. Even Google came under fire to marking the wrong day on some posts.
The bill not only separates the two commemorative dates but will also require the state’s Department of Education to create a special curriculum on the fight for civil rights and the Civil War, starting with the 2018-2019 school year.