Press Release

Asa Arkansas's Governor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
03.21.2017

Gov. Hutchinson Signs SB 519; Eliminates Dual Holiday Status of Dr. King and Gen. Lee

“I expected a debate that would divide. Instead, we listened to each other, and the conversation brought us together.”

LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson today signed into law Senate Bill 519, eliminating the dual holiday status and concurrent commemoration of General Robert E. Lee and Dr. Martin Luther King. With his signature, the Dr. King holiday will continue to be celebrated on the third Monday in January, while General Lee’s day of recognition will be moved to the second Saturday of October. 

Senate Bill 519 will also provide, for the first time in Arkansas, a statewide policy of teaching our children about the Civil War. In addition, with this bill we will coordinate instruction about civil rights leaders and Martin Luther King-specific teaching materials with the holiday that bears his name.

Governor Hutchinson issued the following statement:

“This is a historic day for our state. The legislative support for a separate holiday to recognize Martin Luther King far exceeded my expectations. To be frank, I expected a debate that would divide. Instead, we listened to each other, and the conversation brought us together. We learned that history needs to be viewed—not just from our own lens—but through the eyes and experiences of others.

“Dr. King—his work and sacrifice—deserves, without question, a day of celebration and reflection unto himself. Today, we underscore that point and, by doing so, we show the rest of the country that, in Arkansas, actions speak louder than words. I’m delighted to sign this bill into law, and when all is said and done, I believe this legislation will perhaps be the most meaningful piece passed this session.”

Senate Bill 519 received bipartisan support in both chambers of the legislature, garnering a 24-0 vote in the Senate and a 66-11 vote in the House. 

To view video of the signing, go HERE. Media outlets are welcome to use video. Please attribute credit to the Governor's Office.

CONTACT: Press Shop (press@governor.arkansas.gov or 501.682.3612)