A black Tennessee mayor declared April Confederate History Month while  surrounded by white members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which says it celebrates the history of the Confederacy while denouncing racism.

Livingston Mayor Curtis Hayes, who appears to be non-partisan with no record of a party affiliation, signed the proclamation last week with members of the SCV. It is a Tennessee-based group comprised of male descendants of Confederate soldiers, Overton County News reported.

The Confederate States of America succeeded from the U.S. in 1861 following the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, who southern states believed would free the slaves that ran their agricultural economy. The Confederacy ultimately lost the Civil War, the bloodiest in American history,  in 1865 and was dissolved back into the U.S.

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