America continues it’s short, rapid march towards becoming 1984′s Oceania. The AP news service is reporting that the Charlottesville city council has voted to drop all celebrations of Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. Instead they will replace it with an observation of abolition and emancipation.
Charlottesville, Virginia, will no longer celebrate Thomas Jefferson’s birthday as an official city holiday and instead will observe a day recognizing the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans.
The city council voted Monday night to scrap the decades-old April 13 holiday honoring the slave-holding president and Founding Father. Charlottesville will now mark Liberation and Freedom Day on March 3, the day U.S. Army forces arrived in the city in 1865.
Charlottesville has been grappling publicly for years with how to tell its history of race and discrimination. Those efforts intensified after white nationalists gathered in the city in 2017 for a rally that descended into deadly violence.
Charlottesville was ground zero for a brutal clash over civil war era statues and their removals from public properties.
Much like our nation in general, Thomas Jefferson’s history is complicated and nuanced. Also like our nation in general his legacy is both bitter and sweet. Regardless of the challenges of recognizing such a figure in our history, Jefferson’s contributions to the prosperity we all now enjoy cannot be measured. To erase that history is to erase our future.
But maybe that’s the point.