Story at a glance
- The Virginia House of Delegates passed a law stripping Lee-Jackson Day as an official state holiday.
- This comes as anti-discrimination legislation has just been passed in Virginia.
- Election Day will now take its place as a formal holiday.
On the heels of passing a protective LGBTQ+ law and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), Virginia is also moving to end a state holiday celebrating Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
The majority Democrat Virginia House passed HB 108, effectively removing Lee-Jackson Day as a state holiday. To supplement this, Election Day will now be a state holiday instead, celebrated on the first Tuesday in November.
The holiday was first established in 1889 by then-Governor Fitzhugh Lee, General Robert E. Lee’s nephew, according to WAMU. It eventually included Stonewall Jackson and was celebrated across the south and former confederate states. The day, observed on the Friday before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January, was called “Lee-Jackson Day.”
Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam advocated for the holiday change, saying “We need to make Election Day a holiday. We can do it by ending the Lee-Jackson holiday that Virginia holds. … It commemorates a lost cause. It’s time to move on.”
Earlier today, Gov. Northam tweeted a response to CNN reporter Jim Acosta, saying that the Virginia government is “making it easier for Virginians to exercise their fundamental right to vote, and building a more representative and inclusive Commonwealth as a result.”
We are making it easier for Virginians to exercise their fundamental right to vote, and building a more representative and inclusive Commonwealth as a result. https://t.co/7GRwEunhhg— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) February 7, 2020
While the majority appear to favor this move, some critics look upon this law — as well as the removal of confederate statues and the confederate flag — as erasing history.
One unidentified person celebrating Lee-Jackson Day in Lexington, Va., told local newspaper The Roanoke Times that he thinks that “Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee are some of the greatest men to have ever lived. Great men, and we’re all getting washed away.”