Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

You Can’t Escape #ALpolitics: Alabama’s Racist Tie-In To #MothersDay

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, May 14, 2017

“A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who’s done more for you than anyone in the world.”

-Anna Jarvis (1864-1948), credited as Mother’s Day foundress, quoted in her New York Times obituary

A lifelong spinster, by 1943, Anna Jarvis was so disgusted at the crass commercialization of her idea, that she began a petition to repeal the holiday proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson in Presidential Proclamation 1268

Presidential Proclamation 1268, May 9, 1914, declaring the second Sunday in May as “Mother’s Day.”

on May 9, 1914  as being the second Sunday in May, declaring the first national Mother’s Day as a day for “government officials to display the United States flag on all government buildings, and the people of the United States to display the flag at their homes or other suitable places on the second Sunday in May as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.” That roughly translates as encouragement for American citizens to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war.

The legislative idea for the holiday was originally introduced in May that year as a Joint Resolution in the House of Representatives by James Thomas “Cotton Tom” Heflin of Alabama (1869-1951) – an avowed racist white supremacist, Ku Klux Klan member and outspoken opponent of Roman Catholics, uncle of late, former U.S. Senator Howell Heflin (1921-2005) – and in the Senate by Morris Sheppard of Texas (1875-1941), both whom were Democrats.

Heflin thought women nation-wide would appreciate his gesture, which in turn would curry favor with his constituency, and enure to his upcoming re-election, where he served until election to the Senate to fill the vacancy created by the death of John Bankhead.

Heflin also expressed disgust with Al Smith (1873-1944), Democrat party presidential nominee and former New York Governor who was also the first Roman Catholic presidential nominee, and endorsed Republican Herbert Hoover for President, and was abandoned by the Alabama Democratic party, subsequently denied nomination to senatorial re-election in 1930, which was won by nominee John Bankhead II. Heflin claimed voting fraud and initiated a Senate investigation into the matter which found no basis for his claim, and he never held elected office again.

Equally ironic, and tragically so, is that toward the end of her life, following her efforts to rescind Mother’s Day as a holiday, Anna Jarvis was institutionalized against her wishes at Marshall Square Sanitarium in West Chester, PA where she later died, November 24, 1948. The costs to keep her there were paid by members of the flower and card industry.

Mother’s Day, of course, continues to this day to be celebrated as a reverential recognition of women’s role as guardians of the family, and their paramount importance in society.

Here’s hoping that this day in which we acknowledge a fundamentally important role of women in our lives, and give special reverence to them as our mothers, though it may be bittersweet, that it may be as lovingly pleasant as possible for you.

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