And state officials proposed to build a memorial for black soldiers near Stone Mountain, the towering paean to the Confederate war dead.
In a 2015 interview, Deal said the holiday name change was meant to "show that we are a state that has come a very long way."
"We are tolerant of a lot of things. But we will also protect our heritage," he said, adding: "This was not one of those areas where I thought it was necessary to keep those labels associated with the holiday.”
The debate over Civil War era monuments rages on.
Lawmakers this year sidestepped a fight over legislation that would let local communities decide whether to remove Civil War monuments. Next year, though, Deal's successor could take a different tack.
The five leading Republican candidates largely oppose changing existing state law that protects the more than 170 Civil War monuments around the state.
Democrat Stacey Evans, a former state legislator, wants to overhaul the law to allow local communities to decide whether the monuments should remain on their grounds. Her opponent, former state House leader Stacey Abrams, wants to remove the carving from the state-owned Stone Mountain.