Thomas Jefferson's birthday in mid-April is currently recognized as a city holiday in Charlottesville, VA. But if it was up to Mayor Nikuyah Walker, she'd change it to “Liberation and Freedom Day.” The alternative holiday, which she proposed at a city council meeting last month, would instead celebrate the emancipation of slaves in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. Walker is one of several people advocating for the change because it's well known that Jefferson, the third president of the United States and drafter of the Declaration of Independence, was also a slave owner.
Some citizens are up in arms over her suggestion, accusing her of trying to sanitize history. But she has no clue why because, as she explained in a recent message, Jefferson is still celebrating his birthday "in hell." She shared that comment on her official Facebook page.
Walker got virtual high fives from some of her followers, but it looks like quite a few of her constituents were appalled by the message. Some users called her "judgmental and disturbing," while another told Walker, "your hate is unflattering and unbecoming."
"If you think Jefferson and Charlottesville are so damnable, how come you still live there and are mayor?," another commenter, Joleen Hart, wrote. "Thank God for Thomas Jefferson. He helped make our country free."
Walker isn't the only one seeking to erase Jefferson. For instance, the Democratic Party of Virginia wants to rename the annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Richmond, recognizing Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, to the "Blue Commonwealth Gala.”
Other lawmakers around the Old Dominion are sanitizing history in other ways. For instance, the Jefferson Davis Highway, named after the president of the Confederate, will soon be renamed.
Editor's note: an earlier version of this story said Jefferson was one of the founders responsible for drafting the Constitution. He was actually one of the founders that helped draft the Declaration of Independence.