Representatives now considering replacement holidays
The Virginia state holiday Lee-Jackson Day will no longer be observed in Charlottesville following a City Council vote Monday.
With this move Charlottesville joins other Virginia localities such as Richmond, Fairfax, Hampton, Lynchburg and Norfolk, which have also stopped observing the holiday.
The Council unanimously approved an ordinance to end Charlottesville’s observance of the holiday, which honors Confederate Army Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Previously, city workers were given a day off on the holiday each year.
Council Member Kristin Szakos initially brought the issue to the attention of the Council.
“I had heard about it in the community for years and thought it was worth discussing,” Szakos said.
Szakos said feedback from the community was mixed, with some in support of the holiday and others strongly against it.
“We had not exactly universal support, but mostly universal,” Szakos said. “Many constituents expressed interest in having it ended. Most people in opposition to the ordinance were not from Charlottesville.”
Susan Hathaway of The Virginia Flaggers, a Southern heritage advocacy group, spoke before the vote in favor of upholding the holiday.
“If you take it upon yourselves to strike down a holiday that was established by the duly elected representatives of this city, you are opening the door to having the same thing happen to Thomas Jefferson Day, for instance, should a future council decide he is not ‘worthy of honoring,’” Hathaway said in her speech. “I urge you to set aside the prejudice and bias which led to this proposed amendment, and leave the Lee-Jackson Holiday as is.”
Lee-Jackson Day was held the Friday before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Szakos said the next step is to decide which holiday will replace Lee-Jackson Day for city staff.
“What we’ve done is sent it back to staff, the city manager is taking a poll of staff to find a holiday to replace it with,” Szakos said.
She said a few holidays were being discussed, and Veterans Day is a potential candidate.