A City in Mississippi Tried to Rename MLK Day 'Great Americans Day'

Last week, the official Twitter account for the city of Biloxi, Miss. tweeted that certain offices would be closed today for “Great Americans Day.” Naturally, people were very quick to respond in shock and outrage at what seemed to be a blatant disrespect and disregard for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose life and legacy is celebrated (as a designated federal holiday) the third Monday of every January in the U.S.

After the tweet went viral, the city attempted to do some damage control by explaining the history of “Great Americans Day” in Biloxi. It was apparently signed into legislation to reconcile name changes to federal holidays that were the result of state and federal law changes.

“This change...was intended to comply with conflicting state and federal laws that gave different names to the holiday, while emphasizing that Biloxi would celebrate the day as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which it has done ever since,” according to the post on the city’s official website.

This still doesn’t explain last week’s ignorant tweet, though. According to BuzzFeed, a number of city officials for Biloxi were “confused” about the tweet themselves, as they had never before heard of the term “Great Americans Day,” let alone seen it used in government announcements in the past.

In response to the error, the city announced that a meeting would be held to formally change the name of the January holiday. Thankfully, as of this morning, the Biloxi city council decided unanimously to officially rename the holiday Martin Luther King Day.

Understandably, though, some people are still pretty angry about the seeming mix-up. It speaks to the historical erasure of the accomplishments and entire lives of people of color.

There's one positive side of this situation: It's gotten people talking about the importance of celebrating marginalized individuals and giving them due recognition. The city of Biloxi isn't likely to forget the uproar they were met with, and will hopefully make better efforts in the future to be more inclusive and intersectional.