The Biloxi City Council voted unanimously Monday to get in sync with the federal holiday in referring to the third Monday of January after a city tweet omitted Martin Luther King, Jr., from his day.
“Non-emergency municipal offices in Biloxi will be closed on Monday in observance of Great Americans Day,” the Mississippi city tweeted from its official account Friday, sparking a firestorm of criticism on social media.
The city eventually deleted that tweet and tweeted: “From Mayor Andrew ‘FoFo’ Gilich: ‘As far as I’m concerned, it’s called ‘Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.'”
As the story made national news, Gilich issued a statement Friday saying it was his opinion “that is the appropriate step to take, for the holiday to have the same name as the federal holiday.”
“This city’s longstanding support of our annual MLK celebrations speaks volumes about our support for this holiday,” Gilich added. “In fact, we’ve always celebrated this day as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.”
But it was still Great Americans Day in the city ordinances, and had been so since 1985. Back then, the council adopted the name, officially, “to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as well as other great Americans who have made important contributions to the birth, growth and evolution of this country.”
On Saturday, Gilich announced that a special meeting of the city council had been called an hour before Monday’s MLK Day parade was set to begin. The city press release said “Gilich and members of the Biloxi City Council were unaware of the city’s decades-old designation of the holiday as ‘Great Americans Day’ until it was included in a posting on the city’s social media accounts on Friday afternoon.”
Monday’s meeting lasted 45 minutes and ended with a 6-0 vote for the city to mirror federal wording, calling the holiday “Birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” Twenty minutes after the vote, the annual parade began.