Jul 3, 2019

Charlottesville ends Thomas Jefferson's birthday to highlight emancipation

This image shows a crowd of torch-carrying people surrounding a statue of Thomas Jefferson at night.

Self-avowed white supremacists encircle counterprotestors at Thomas Jefferson's statue at the University of Virginia on August 11, 2017. Photo: Shay Horse/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Charlottesville, Virginia will hold an annual day "recognizing the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans" instead of celebrating Thomas Jefferson's birthday, according to a decision made this week by the city council, the AP reports.

Between the lines: Jefferson's statue on the University of Virginia campus became a symbol of racial discrimination for protestors during the fatal 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.

Flashback: Demonstrators on the first day of the Charlottesville rallies converged around a statue of Thomas Jefferson — who founded the University of Virginia — and fought with counter-protestors organized around the base of the statue. Some attendees "made monkey noises at the black counterprotesters" and chanted "white lives matter," the Washington Post reports.

  • A month after the rally, protestors covered Jefferson's statue in black and displayed signs reading "Black Lives Matter" and "TJ is a racist and rapist," according to the BBC.
  • Cities around the country have been confronted with demands to take down Confederate monuments and symbols in the aftermath of Charlottesville. Jefferson was not alive during the Civil War — therefore not a Confederate — but he was a slaveowner.

Go deeper: Confederate statues removed since the last "Unite the Right" rally

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