The Iowa Democratic Party's State Central Committee voted Saturday in favor of a resolution to change the name of the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, an annual party celebration named for Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson.
The reason behind the name change? Both presidents were slave owners and the party is looking to distance itself from their legacies.
It's time to "move forward and modernize," party chair Dr. Andy McGuire said.
"The vote to change the name of the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner comes after much debate and discussion among our activists and grassroots leaders around the state. This was not a decision that was made lightly. The vote today confirms that our party believes it is important to change the name of the dinner to align with the values of our modern day Democratic Party: inclusiveness, diversity and equality," McGuire said in a statement.
Recent events, such as the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, and the state legislature's subsequent vote to remove the Confederate flag from capitol grounds, have sparked discussions on the politics of symbols. Now, in the first-in-the-nation caucus state, the Democratic Party will celebrate the party in an annual dinner without celebrating one of the party's founders and the author of the Declaration of Independence.
Whether to rename the dinner has sparked debate in states across the country. Iowa Democrats followed the lead of several other state Democratic parties that have dropped Jefferson and Jackson, including Georgia, Connecticut, and Missouri. The Boston Globe reported Friday that the Maine Democratic Party is taking steps toward changing the name, and New Hampshire Democrats are considering a change as well.
The 2015 dinner will be the last Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Iowa, held in the fall. While the Iowa Democratic Party has not yet decided how to rename the dinner, McGuire said the process for changing the name "will be as inclusive as possible."
"We will ensure that all Iowa Democrats have the opportunity to have their voices heard, and offer suggestions for a new name," McGuire said.