Google updates controversial ‘holiday hours feature’ after WJTV asks about MLK Day

3rd Monday of January initially showed Robert E. Lee Day, Not MLK Day

UPDATE: Google has now updated the holiday hours feature. It now says businesses may be affected by Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee Day. Below is a screen shot of the change. Other businesses seem to show the change as well.





JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — It is not uncommon for businesses to be closed on the third Monday of every January in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday.

The day is recognized as a federal holiday in the United States.

However, if you Google businesses around Mississippi to see their holiday hours, the search on Google shows that the hours for the businesses might be affected because of Robert E. Lee Day, not Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The same is true for businesses in Alabama and Arkansas. That’s because, for those three states, the third Monday in January was combined to commemorate and honor both Lee and King.

If you visit the Mississippi Secretary of State’s website under State Holidays, there’s a document posted that says Mississippi observes the day as a holiday for both men.

WJTV reached out to Google about the search engine’s holiday feature to find out its policy. A spokesperson released a statement apologizing and saying its team is working to fix the issue as quickly as possible.

Read the  full statement below:

The holiday hours feature lets people know when a business could be closed or its hours could be different due to a holiday. Unfortunately, in the three states where Robert E Lee’s birthday is recognized as well, the feature is not surfacing Martin Luther King Day as it should be. We apologize for any offense this may have caused. Our teams are working to fix this issue as quickly as possible.

On Mississippi’s coast, controversy about “Great Americans Day” sparked on social media after the City of Biloxi tweeted that non-emergency offices would be closed Monday in observance of the day.

After the backlash, officials posted a statement on Biloxi’s website to have a city ordinance drafted that could reflect a change to recognize the federal holiday, which is a celebration of Dr. King’s birthday.

Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich called a special meeting for 10 a.m. The city tweeted that the council unanimously agreed on the change.

In Arkansas, the governor is reviving an effort to remove Lee from the holiday as well. The Associated Press said Arkansas has had a holiday in honor of Lee since 1947 and one for King since 1983. The Legislature voted to combine the two in 1985.

Below is an example of some of the Google searches that say hours might be affected for Robert E. Lee’s Birthday.

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