What Is Confederate Memorial Day? Mississippi Observes Controversial State Holiday

Depending on their department, state employees across Mississippi will be getting a day off on Monday, April 30, for Confederate Memorial Day—a controversial state holiday celebrated by some Southern states.

The exact date of Confederate Memorial Day differs by state. For Mississippi, the last Monday in April is designated. In Alabama, it's the fourth Monday in April; the two states' celebrations might converge, but there are five Mondays in April in 2018.

Related: New Confederate monuments are quietly going up across the U.S.

In a message to state employees, Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann wrote, "The Legislature has designated the last Monday of April as the day for the observance of Confederate Memorial Day, and under the provisions of Section 3-3-7, Mississippi Code of 1972, is a legal holiday in the State of Mississippi."

Depending on the executive heads of their departments, the message goes on, employees may get the day off. Mississippi's Sun Herald reported that several state agencies will be closed or have limited staffing, while differing counties will decide about their own local government offices.

The holiday is said to be an observance for soldiers who died on the Confederate side during the Civil War. This year's holiday comes as the U.S. continues to grapple with its history of racism.

Statues dedicated to many Confederate generals have been taken down in cities across the country, prompting protests and counterprotests. The Southern Poverty Law Center called Confederate Memorial Day one of three holidays in the state of Alabama "that honor white supremacy."

"We already have a holiday set aside to honor all those who died in service of our country—it's called Memorial Day," the Mississippi Rising Coalition wrote on its Facebook page. "Why is Mississippi spending our tax dollars yet again to venerate the Confederacy?"

On Twitter, the Sun Herald's politics editor, Paul Hampton, wrote, "Most places around here ignore this 'holiday.'"