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Arkansas ends Robert E. Lee-Martin Luther King Jr. joint holiday

Arkansas ends Robert E. Lee-Martin Luther King Jr. joint holiday
Martin Luther King Jr. speaks before a crowd of 25,000 in Montgomery, Alabama on March 25, 1965. (Stephen F. Somerstein / Getty Images)

Arkansas' governor has signed legislation ending the state's practice of commemorating Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on the same holiday as slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday signed the bill he championed in the Legislature. The change means only two states — Alabama and Mississippi — still honor the two men on the same day.

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Arkansas' new law sets aside the second Saturday in October to honor Lee with a state memorial day, not a holiday, which will be marked with a gubernatorial proclamation.

The governor urged lawmakers to support the change, saying it would unify the state and improve its image. Opponents have said it belittles Arkansas' Confederate heritage.

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