UVA College Repubs sound off on proposal to scrap Jefferson's birthday as holiday

The College Republicans at the University of Virginia criticized a proposal made by the Charlottesville, Va. mayor to stop recognizing Thomas Jefferson’s birthday as an official holiday for the city.

Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker made the suggestion earlier in June at a city council meeting, according to The Daily Progress. Walker advocated for instead observing Liberation and Freedom Day -- recognizing the emancipation of slaves in the city and Albemarle County -- as an official city holiday. 

While the mayor did not expand on her proposal, Councilor Wes Bellamy said he was “proud” of Walker, noting that Jefferson was a slaveowner and claiming he raped his slave Sally Hemings, though DNA tests and several Jefferson scholars have refuted that Hemings gave birth to any children by Jefferson.

“I think it’s a conversation that we definitely as a city need to have,” Bellamy, who has previously received scrutiny for tweets in which he made remarks such as “White women=Devil” and “I DONT [sic] LIKE WHIT [sic] PEOPLE SO I HATE WHITE SNOW!!!!!,” said. 

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But UVA’s College Republicans critiqued the proposal in a statement posted to Twitter.

“While we recognize that Thomas Jefferson’s legacy is a complicated one, complete with his disregard of a number of the very values that he proclaimed, we do not believe that this effort to reduce his status in history is the proper response,” the group said.

UVA College Republicans noted the former president’s authorship of the Declaration of Independence, the founding of the University of Virginia, and creation of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom.

“We applaud the mayor’s effort to bring greater recognition to Liberation and Freedom Day, but maintain that this can be accomplished without ceasing to honor Thomas Jefferson’s birthday,” the College Republicans continued. “As such, we urge the Council to reject her effort and strongly encourage the observance of both holidays in the future.”

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April 13 marks the founding father’s birthday and Charlottesville labels the nearest working day a paid holiday.

City Attorney John Blair plans to discuss the proposal at the council’s June 17 or July 1 meetings.

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