For the first time since World War II, guess who won’t be getting a birthday party in Charlottesville, Va.?
If you guessed Thomas Jefferson—the same guy who once wrote “all men are created equal,” yet somehow owned over 600 of our ancestors—you’d be correct.
The Washington Post reports that despite Jefferson’s name being on everything from its public library to a private winery, Charlottesville is apparently looking to shake The Ghost of Racist Past and instead celebrate something much more meaningful: the end of slavery.
From the Post:
Liberation and Freedom Day, as the new holiday is known, will commemorate when Union troops arrived here on March 3, 1865, and freed the enslaved people who made up a majority of Charlottesville’s residents.
“This marks a wholesale shift in our understanding of the community’s history,” said Jalane Schmidt, a professor at the University of Virginia who helped organize the events, which, despite the name, stretch all week. “To take Thomas Jefferson’s birthday off the calendar and add this is a big deal.”
Hell yeah, it is.
For a city known primarily for hosting 2017’s infamous “Unite the Right” rally, this a complete about-face—at least in regards to public perception. But as to be expected, not everyone is feeling the change.
“I have a problem expunging Thomas Jefferson from our history,” Charles L. Weber Jr., a local attorney, said. He also just so happens to be one of a dozen plaintiffs who recently fought to protect the city’s Confederate statues. “Expunging him is not the right answer, just like taking the statues down is not the right answer.”
I beg to differ.
But in a city in which parks and streets have repeatedly been either renamed or re-christened due to their affiliation with Confederate generals, it’s good to see that there are citizens in Charlottesville who are speaking out and no longer embrace its ugly past.