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Lee-Jackson Day: Offensive or Historical?

By Frelyn Jones
Tuesday, March 24, 2013

Some people think of Lee-Jackson Day as a holiday during which the nation honors two Civil War Confederate Veterans, while others think of it as a holiday that stands for racism, but most simply don’t know what it is.

Do you know what Lee-Jackson Day is? Zadie Lacy (‘18) was asked if she knew was Lee-Jackson day was, and she responded by saying, “I’ve heard of it, but I don’t really know what it is.”

Is Lee-Jackson Day important to you? Sydney Dowell (‘16) said, “Lee-Jackson Day isn’t important to me because I don’t know what it is.”

Have you ever noticed that you’ve been celebrating this holiday? Jessica Argueta (‘16) said, “No, because I don’t know what it is.”

Lee-Jackson Day is a holiday celebrated in Virginia to honor Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Robert E. Lee. Jackson and Lee were both soldiers that fought for the Confederates (pro-slavery).

The controversy of Lee-Jackson Day has been disputed in other cities/counties in Virginia, and Charlottesville soon joined the list.

On February 2, 2014, Charlottesville City Hall sat down with two opposing sides to hear what they had to say. Many people argued that the holiday should stay because it was honoring two generals who fought in war, but others argued that those general were fighting for the Confederate side, which vouched for slavery.

A comment made by a teacher in Albemarle County School District stood out. Wes Bellamy, from Albemarle High School, spoke to the council members.

“There is a great deal of history that comes with the Jackson – Lee holiday. We’re aware of that. However, there is a great deal of disdain,” Bellamy said.

Finally, on February 17, 2014, after all the comments made on the holiday, the city council decided to stop recognizing Lee-Jackson Day and make Dr. Martin Luther King Day the federal civil rights holiday.

Do you agree with the decision to end Lee-Jackson Day? Mr. Ayres, a football coach and history teacher, said, “I’m a historian. I understand why people would want to end Lee-Jackson Day and why people would want to keep it, but is having that holiday that important to upset half of your city?”

Do you think Lee-Jackson Day is offensive? After Sydney Dowell was informed of what the holiday was and the significance of the people who were being honored, she said, “I don’t think the holiday should be celebrated in Charlottesville because the holiday represents slavery.”

Some students in Virginia, where Lee-Jackson day is still celebrated, are unaware of the symbolism the holiday shows and just know that they are getting a day off school. Whether or not the holiday is relevant to you has to do with what your true priorities are, and how informed you actually are.

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