Dozens of demonstrators wearing Confederate uniforms marched Saturday morning in Baltimore to honor Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, two days before the holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
About 50 protesters stood silently across the street from the pro-Confederate rally, and some of them carried signs urging the Civil War enthusiasts to change the date of their annual demonstration, reported The Baltimore Sun.
Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy said they chose the date to honor the Confederate generals at their birthdays – which are Jan. 19 and 21.
King’s birthday was Jan. 15, and the federal holiday is held on the third Monday of each January.
The pro-Confederate demonstration has been held on the third weekend of January for years, although members are not sure how the long the event has been held.
Some group members said they had attended ceremonies in the 1950s at the Lee-Jackson monument, near the Baltimore Museum of Art.
The event has drawn more attention in recent years, and local Quakers have helped organize silent protests for the past three years asking them to choose another weekend to honor the Confederate generals.
"Everyone has a right to free speech, but it's blatant racism," said Tessa Hill-Alsto, president of the local NAACP chapter.
Hill-Alsto told the newspaper she doesn’t believe the demonstrators are simply history buffs honoring their southern heritage.
Organizers said the event was not intended to “antagonize” anyone or protest King’s legacy, and they insisted they are not racists.
"Everyone should be proud of their ancestry," said Jay Barringer, a Maryland division commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
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