Virginia Lt. Gov. Protests Robert E. Lee Tribute

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax protested the state Senate’s celebration of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s birthday on Friday.

The 39-year-old Fairfax is the only African-American statewide official in Virginia. He refused to preside over the state Senate during their annual tribute to Lee, who was born 212 years ago Saturday.

Fairfax alluded to his ancestor’s enslavement in the same state where he is now the second highest-ranking official. (RELATED: Virginia High School Into Replacing Robert E. Lee With Interracial Couple’s Name)

“I will be stepping off the dais today in protest of the Virginia Senate honoring Robert E. Lee,” Fairfax said. “I’ll be thinking of this June 5, 1798 manumission document that freed my great-great-great grandfather Simon Fairfax from slavery in Virginia.”

Virginia has celebrated Lee and fellow Confederate general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson every year for over century on January 19, although many cities in the commonwealth refuse to recognize it.

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