The mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia has asked the city council to continue its recent practice of changing city holidays commemorating historical figures.
Mayor Nikuyah Walker has proposed eliminating Thomas Jefferson’s birthday as a city holiday and replacing it with “Liberation and Freedom Day” celebrating the emancipation of slaves in the region.
Charlottesville currently designates Jefferson’s birthday, April 13, (or nearest weekday) as a paid vacation day. But, this week, Mayor Walker proposed the change, without providing a rationale for it, local newspaper The Daily Progress reports:
“At Monday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Nikuyah Walker proposed eliminating the April observance and replacing it with Liberation and Freedom Day in March.”
City council member Wes Bellamy praised Walker’s proposal, saying he was “proud” of her and that “it’s a conversation we definitely need as a city” because Jefferson owned slaves and is believed to have fathered six children with one of them.
The proposal is expected to be brought up for consideration at one of the council’s next two meetings, scheduled for June 16 and July 1.
If approved, it will be the third change to city holidays in recent years.
In 2015, the Charlottesville city council eliminated Lee-Jackson Day commemorating Confederate Civil War Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. And, in 2017, it changed the name of Columbus Day to “Indigenous Peoples Day.”