The Louisiana Democratic Party is dropping Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson from its yearly fundraising event — becoming the latest state party to shift away from honoring the two slave-owning presidents.
The annual "Jefferson-Jackson" dinner, which is scheduled to take place in New Orleans on Aug. 26, will now be called the True Blue Gala.
A spokeswoman from the state Democratic Party said Chairwoman Karen Carter Peterson announced last fall the event would be rebranded "to reflect the progress of the party and the changing times."
"In the past year, we conducted roundtables and surveys, and consulted our local and state committees to ultimately choose the name 'True Blue Gala,'" the state party said in a statement. "We believe this will allow us to not only focus on keynote speakers but also award recipients. Along with the name change, we are adding a more robust media experience and an after party to the event."
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In an email to supporters Wednesday, Peterson, of New Orleans, wrote that "after talking to over 100 people, sifting through heaps of suggestions — we have determined the name of our dinner — The True Blue Gala!"
Jefferson and Jackson are historically considered to be the founders of the Democratic Party, but their ownership of slaves and Jackson's treatment of Native Americans has prompted several states, including Georgia, Florida and Arkansas to move away from holding the once iconic "Jefferson-Jackson" dinners. The shift has coincided with an effort among cities and states to distance themselves from symbols honoring the Confederacy and slavery.
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New Orleans this year removed four monuments honoring the Civil War and white supremacy.
The annual "J-J dinner" typically draws hundreds of Democrats from across the state and is the Louisiana Democratic Party's largest fundraiser. Recent keynote speakers have included high-profile Democrats, including New Jersey U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. Tickets to the dinner are $175 apiece.
Jason Kander, who is seen as a key rising star in the national Democratic Party despite losing a U.S. Senate race in Missouri last year, will be the featured guest when Louisiana Democrats hold the first True Blue Gala next month.
Kander, a former Army intelligence officer, was Missouri's secretary of state before narrowly losing last year's Senate race against incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt. In recent weeks, Kander, 36, has been the subject of high-profile articles speculating about his future role in national politics.
“We’re thrilled to have Jason at our dinner this year because we believe he speaks to the next generation of leadership in our country. Jason is exactly the sort of leader we need to progress the party in the South. He’s a young veteran who continues to put his country before himself,” Peterson said in a news release about the event. “I’ve been inspired more than a few times hearing Jason speak at events."