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Wikimedia Commons/Linksfuss 21:06/CC BY-SA 3.0
Wikimedia Commons/Linksfuss 21:06/CC BY-SA 3.0

Charlottesville Scraps Jefferson’s Birthday Holiday, Will Celebrate End of Slavery Instead

Claudine Varela
Jul 08, 2019
08:38 A.M.
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Thomas Jefferson's legacy in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia is questioned after the city council voted in favor of scrapping the holiday celebrating his birthday. It will be replaced by a new holiday celebrating the city's liberation from slavery.

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Members of the city council of Charlottesville have voted in favor of a holiday switch. Instead of celebrating Thomas Jefferson’s birthday on April 13 as traditionally done, this will be scrapped and replaced by a new holiday recognizing the emancipation of slaves to be marked annually on March 3.

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The decision which won in a 4-1 vote ends the holiday honoring Founding Father Jefferson in his hometown. This transition gives way to the acknowledgment of Liberation and Freedom Day which happened in 1865 when US Army forces arrived in Charlottesville.

"Council’s action has shifted the focus from a slave-owners birthday to Liberation and Freedom Day...That history deserves greater attention today."

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THE CITY'S FOCUS "HAS SHIFTED"

According to a statement released by Charlottesville City Manager Tarron Richardson,"While there are many things we appreciate about Jefferson’s contributions to the United States and our community, today the City is being much more intentional about telling a more complete history of our community."

It adds,

"Council’s action has shifted the focus from a slave-owners birthday to Liberation and Freedom Day, a day in 1865 when blacks were the majority race in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area and there were over 14,000 enslaved people at the time of emancipation. That history deserves greater attention today."

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JEFFERSON'S LEAVES BEHIND A TAINTED LEGACY

As the third president of the United States, Jefferson is recognized as a man with many contributions to the country. He was one of the primary authors of the US Constitution and one of the signatories in the Declaration of Independence. He likewise founded the University of Virginia in 1819.

However, along with his positive contributions to the country, he was also believed to have encouraged slavery. During his lifetime, he allegedly owned more than 600 slaves and even possibly fathered one child with one of them.

"If we start by retroactively looking at the sins of great figures who have made enormous contributions to western philosophy, we are going to be left with a decimated history."

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SUPPORTERS OF JEFFERSON'S HOLIDAY SLAM DECISION

Kathy Galvin, the lone council member who voted against scrapping the Jefferson holiday believes the man still deserves to be honored.

“Doing away with Thomas Jefferson’s birthday doesn’t do away with the history,” she reasoned. “That birthday is still here. What he has done in the past is there.”

Galvin’s sentiment is shared by Professor Jason Hill of DePaul University who gives bigger weight on Jefferson’s contributions more than his sins.

"I think this was a great man that helped found this country," he said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” "If we start by retroactively looking at the sins of great figures who have made enormous contributions to western philosophy, we are going to be left with a decimated history."

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STUDENTS PREVIOUSLY LED A PROTEST AGAINST THE FORMER PRESIDENT

This is the second time this year Jefferson’s legacy was questioned. In March, students of Hofstra University in New York City called for the removal of the former president’s statue from the campus. The clamor which was part of the “Jefferson Has Gotta Go” campaign was the culmination of protests which included the desecration of the statue. Vandals wrote “Black Lives Matter” slogans on it believing the president was representative of racism and slavery.

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