Dueling marches honor heritage of civil rights and Civil War

LEXINGTON, Va. (AP) " In Lexington, Virginia, a city steeped in Old South history, an anti-racism group plans to hold a march on a weekend that honors Confederate heroes, while Confederate flag supporters have applied for a permit to hold a parade on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Both sides say they're just celebrating "diversity."

The Roanoke Times (http://bit.ly/2eYXw1x) reports the Community Anti-Racism Education Initiative obtained a parade permit for the Saturday following Lee-Jackson Day, a Jan. 13 state holiday honoring Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. The group says it wants "to celebrate diversity in our great town."

In response, the Virginia Flaggers applied for a march permit on the Jan. 16 King holiday. The flag group said CARE just wants to disrupt a Confederate heritage parade.

In a statement, the flaggers offered to swap permits and switch parade dates in a "spirit of unity and 'celebrating diversity.'"

"We are confident that the folks at CARE will do the right thing and consent to switch the parade dates, especially since their expressed intent is to honor Martin Luther King, and our expressed intent is to honor Lee (and) Jackson," Virginia Flaggers said in a statement.

CARE member Lyndon Sayers said organizers are discussing the Virginia Flaggers' proposal.

City officials are also considering the situation.

Lexington has multiple ties to the American Civil War. It is home to the Virginia Military Institute, a military college whose cadets primarily aided the Confederacy during the war. The Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, where Jackson is buried, is also located in Lexington. Robert E. Lee's mausoleum is at Washington and Lee University in Lexington.

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Information from: The Roanoke Times, http://www.roanoke.com

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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