Charlottesville, Virginia, has permanently canceled Thomas Jefferson Day, in exchange for a day of observance that recognizes the emancipation of enslaved Black people. The city council voted to eliminate the April 13 holiday on Monday, AP reported. 

In a separate, unanious vote the council added  “Freedom and Liberation Day” on March 3, which will commemorate the day that U.S. troops emancipated enslaved Black people in 1865, according to CBS 19 News.

This is welcome news coming from a city still coming to terms with the controversial Unite the Right Rally that shook the nation in 2017.

The white supremacist protest emerged in response to the removal of a confederate statue and left activist Heather Heyer dead. James Alex Fields Jr., 22, the man who murdered Heyer, pleaded guilty to 29 of 30 federal hate crime charges; last week, he was sentenced to life in prison.

Thomas Jefferson is a great example of the city’s tainted legacy. The so-called founding father, who enslaved Black people—and raped and impregnated at least one, Sally Hemings—authored the Declaration of Independence in 1776. He also founded the University of Virginia, which continues to unravel a history of violence enacted upon enslaved Black people. 

“Slavery, in every way imaginable, was central to the project of designing, funding, building, and maintaining the school,” explained a 2018 report conducted on the University’s relationship to slavery. 

Some argue that Jefferson’s contributions should not be erased. 

“Doing away with Thomas Jefferson’s birthday doesn’t do away with the history,” said Kathy Galvin, the one council member who voted against ending the holiday in a 4-1 vote, according to CBS 19 News. “That birthday is still here. What he has done in the past is there.”

The end of Thomas Jefferson Day is welcome news coming from a city still coming to terms with the controversial Unite the Right Rally that shook the nation in 2017.

The white supremacist protest emerged in response to the removal of a confederate statue and left activist Heather Heyer dead. James Alex Fields Jr., 22, the man who murdered Heyer, pleaded guilty to 29 of 30 federal hate crime charges; last week, he was sentenced to life in prison.

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