Virginia lawmaker proposes bill to end Lee-Jackson holiday

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Virginia lawmaker has filed a bill that would scrap the state’s Lee-Jackson holiday celebrating two Confederate generals and add one on Election Day.

Del. Joseph Lindsey’s measure is one of hundreds lawmakers will consider when they convene next month for the start of the 2020 legislative session.

Lee-Jackson Day, established over 100 years ago, is observed annually on the Friday preceding the third Monday in January. It honors Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, both native Virginians.

For a time, the holiday was merged with the one celebrating the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. But the 2000 General Assembly brought an end to Lee-Jackson-King day when it voted to create a separate holiday for King.

Critics of the Lee-Jackson holiday view it as a celebration of the state’s slave-holding history that’s offensive to African Americans. Many cities and counties have opted not to observe it.

Lindsey, a Democrat whose district includes Norfolk and Virginia Beach, is the new chair of the House privileges and elections committee. He is the first black lawmaker to serve in that role, according to the legislative black caucus.

Last year, he introduced a similar bill that died in a privileges and elections subcommittee on a party-line vote.

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