The Connecticut Democratic Party quietly voted Wednesday night to remove references to iconic former Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson from the name of its annual fundraising dinner due to their links to slavery and the mistreatment of Native Americans.
"Let's work together to show the rest of the state exactly what it means to be a Connecticut Democrat,'’ said freshman party Chairman Nick Balletto, according to the Hartford Courant, before introducing the resolution to rename the Jefferson-Jackson-Bailey Dinner.
The resolution was unanimously approved; “Bailey,” which remains for now, honors the late Democratic National Committee Chairman John Bailey.
“I see it as the right thing to do,” Balletto later told Hearst Connecticut Media. “I wasn’t looking to be a trailblazer or set off a trend that’s going to affect the rest of the country. Hopefully, they’ll follow suit when they see it’s the right thing to do.”
Democratic Party organizations around the country typically hold their own annual Jefferson-Jackson Day fundraisers. The Missouri Democratic Party voted two weeks ago to rename its "J-J" dinner in honor of former President Harry Truman.
Connecticut Democrats said Jefferson’s ownership of slaves and Jackson’s role in the Trail of Tears — the forced relocation of Native Americans — played a principal role in their decision to vote in favor of the name change.
The local chapter of the NAACP applauded lawmakers "in making the symbolic first step and striving to right the wrongs of the past."
"You can’t change history, but you don’t have to honor it,” Balletto is quoted as saying.
The dinner, which celebrated 67 years in June, most recently hosted Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as a keynote speaker.
A new name will likely be adopted in the fall.