The Biloxi City Council voted 6-0 this January to rename “Great Americans Day” to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But, technically, if you live in almost any other part of the country, that day already is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“Great Americans Day” was a state-named holiday that caused a large amount of controversy when it was a trending topic on social media apps.
The official vote finally reverts the holiday back to its original name, but came after the city had already posted statuses to multiple social media accounts about the activities that would go on during “Great Americans Day” come January 16. Approximately 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, and this controversy was at the top of Google results for many Americans that week.
The posts have since been deleted from all of the city’s social media feeds, but the controversy is still raging. While the state of Mississippi has never officially recognized “Great Americans Day,” a 1985 ordinance in Biloxi officially recognized the third Monday in January as such.
Some city officials are claiming that they’re being unfairly blamed for an ordinance that was passed before they were in office. Others are appalled that the holiday name hadn’t been Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day all along. Councilman Robert Deming III explained that he thought it was “an abomination” to call the day anything but Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Within hours of the “Great Americans Day” tweet sent out by the city, people across the Internet were calling out the city for not using the federal holiday name appointed to the third Monday in January. The city claimed that they had always celebrated MLK day with events that honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but the “Great Americans Day” controversy has led many people to believe otherwise.
Predictably, local politicians are claiming that the tweets were never meant to cause controversy, and Biloxi’s mayor tried to downplay the issue on Twitter. Still, the City Council’s vote indicates that the criticism was heard loud and clear.
“It makes the entire state look bad,” one person wrote on Facebook in a typical response to the mayor’s update.