Last week, Mayor Curtis Hayes, a Black recipient of an NAACP diversity award, signed a proclamation delegating April Confederate History Month in Livingston, Tennessee.
During the announcement, mayor Hayes was joined by six white members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV).
According to the Daily Mail, there is no party affiliation on record for Mayor Hayes.
While the SCV’s website condemns racism while commemorating the history of the Confederacy, it is clear that the Confederacy fought loud and proud in support of slavery, sought to continue slavery, and left the U.S. after the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln. Southern states saw slavery as a material interest and were heavily dependent on a plantation system of enslaved Africans to pick cotton. The Confederacy suspected President Lincoln would free the slaves, which he ultimately did.
Tennessee joins a larger body of states already commemorating the Confederacy. According to News4Jax, Apr. 26 legally remained Confederate Memorial Day in Florida last year. Georgia removed the holiday from its official state calendar in 2016 after the Charleston, S.C. church shooting—though it remains a state holiday.
Forbes reported state offices closing in observance of Confederate Memorial Day in Alabama, South Carolina, and Mississippi in 2021. Gov. Tate Reeves removed the Confederate battle symbol from the Mississippi state flag in 2020. Yet, the Republican governor observed the Confederate holiday this year.
The declaration came amid efforts to retire other Confederate emblems in the U.S. Former Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam brought down a 21-foot statue of Confederate Army Gen. Robert E. Lee in 2020. The monument was removed shortly after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. A time capsule was also replaced and filled with artifacts, including a Black Lives Matter sticker and an outdated vial of a COVID-19 vaccine. Gov. Northam said, “This was a long time coming, part of the healing process so Virginia can move forward and be a welcoming state with inclusiveness and diversity.”
While 73 Confederate symbols were removed in the U.S. in 2021, 723 remain.
A lifelong resident of Overton County, Mayor Hayes was elected in 2006. At the time of his re-election, the mayor made note of his ability to understand the people, according to Overton County News.
“Growing up here helps me understand our ways, our needs, and our special place. I always try to do what’s best for the people, and that’s why I have a ‘People-First, Open-Door Policy’ at the City,” Mayor Hayes said.
The Livingston mayor received the NAACP Cookeville Diversity Award on Oct. 23, 2021. Livingston Enterprise reports he did not expect the award. Mayor Hayes stated, “I never would have thought in a million years, first of all, that I would be in a position where I am currently.”