Charlottesville drops holiday for Founding Father and slave owner Thomas Jefferson's birthday

Mail Online | 2/6/2014 | Afp;Associated Press
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Thomas Jefferson's home town of Charlottesville, Virginia will no longer mark the birthday of the author of the US Declaration of Independence as a paid holiday, a city spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

Instead the Charlottesville city council voted 4-1 late Monday to replace it with a holiday commemorating the liberation of African-Americans by the Union army in 1865 at the end of the US Civil War, Brian Wheeler, the city's director of communications, said.

Explanation - Move - June - Debate - Proposal

There was no official explanation for the move but in a June 17 debate on the proposal, city council member Wes Bellamy questioned why the city should celebrate a figure who viewed blacks as inferior.

Mayor Nikuyah Walker noted that more than half the population of Charlottesville and surrounding Albemarle County were enslaved at the outset of the Civil War and 14,000 were emancipated after the city was liberated by Union soldiers.

Kathy - Galvin - Vote - Measure - Jefferson

Kathy Galvin, who cast the sole vote against the measure, defended Jefferson as a man whose contributions were worthy of recognition.

The snub of Charlottesville's most famous son comes as the city undergoes a reappraisal of its traditions in the wake of the 2017 white supremacist rally that ended in the death of a young woman.

Right - Rally - Removal - Statue - Confederate

The 'Unite the Right' rally was called ostensibly to oppose the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from a Charlottesville park.

But it made Charlottesville a symbol of a seemingly emboldened white supremacist movement under US President Donald Trump, who blamed 'many sides' for the violence.

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