Virginia is set to end a holiday celebrating Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and replace it by making Election Day a civic holiday, CNN reports.
The Virginia House voted earlier this week to remove Lee-Jackson Day from its official list of state holidays, which Gov. Ralph Northam said in his State of the Commonwealth address last month that “commemorates a lost cause,” adding, “it’s time to move on.”
Northam mentioned making Election Day a holiday in his 2020 legislative proposals, saying that it will make voting easier for the people of Virginia. The state Senate passed a bill last month making the same change to the holiday list. Once signed by the governor, Virginia will join Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky and New York as states where Election Day is a civic holiday.
Democrats in the U.S. Senate attempted to make Election Day a national holiday, but Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky rejected the measure, saying it would pay government employees to “hang out at the polls during an election” or to campaign on behalf of those running.
Several Southern states continue to celebrate Confederate Memorial Day, including Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Georgia renamed the day to “State Holiday” to distance the day from the Confederacy, but did not change the date. Last July, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a proclamation that declared a holiday named for Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate Army general, slave trader, and the first "Grand Wizard," or head of the Ku Klux Klan.
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