The city of Biloxi got serious flak last night when it announced on its Twitter account that city offices would be closed Monday in “observance of Great Americans Day.”
Non-emergency municipal offices in Biloxi will be closed on Monday in observance of Great Americans Day.
— City of Biloxi (@CityofBiloxi) January 13, 2017
Great Americans Day, according to the Sun Herald, recognizes a joint celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s birthdays.
More than a few took umbrage and questioned this curious holiday that on its face seems like a slap in the face to King. The person behind the Twitter account seemed indignant when questioned by offended Americans.
Two hours later, the post had been amended to add that Great Americans Day was a state-named holiday and to include a link to its MLK events.
The Sun Herald reports that Biloxi spokesman Vincent Creel said the declaration of the holiday didn’t originate with the city, and he described the initial tweet as “innocuous.”
“We did not decide to start calling it Great Americans Day,” he told the Sun Herald. “However, whenever the state did years ago, that’s how it’s listed in the city’s code of ordinances.”
He added, “It is very frustrating, very frustrating for Mayor [Andrew “FoFo”] Gilich, for the city leaders, to be labeled as racist, when this is something we did not originate. We’ve got a long history of diversity and welcoming people to our community.”
Speaking of FoFo, after black Twitter got ahold of this indignity, he tweeted at about 9:30 p.m. that he was going with MLK Day. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s called ‘Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day,’” he wrote.
Biloxi, according to the census of 2000, is a city of about 50,000. It is about 71 percent white and 19 percent black. In 1959, Biloxi was the site of what is now described as Mississippi’s worst racial riot (and that’s saying a lot) when a black physician and his friends tried to integrate its beaches in what is now known as the Biloxi Wade-Ins. Ten people died during the riot. The Wade-Ins ended in 1963 after the murder of Mississippi NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers, who supported the measures to open up the city’s beaches. The public waterfronts were not fully integrated until 1968.
FoFo’s tweet remains as of Saturday morning. The others have since been taken down.
Read more at the Sun Herald.