Tennessee Democratic Chair Mary Mancini has stirred some controversy by declaring Tuesday that “Tennessee Democrats must have a conversation and discuss Andrew Jackson’s legacy,” including whether Jackson’s name should remain on the state party’s annual Jackson Day fundraising event.
From the Richard Locker report:
That’s Andrew Jackson — the Tennessean known as the “father of the Democratic Party,” resident of Nashville, war hero, co-founder of Memphis and seventh president of the United States.
And slave owner and an architect of the removal of Native Americans from their Southern homes to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears.
Mancini posted the communiqué on TnDP’s Facebook page and by email to party regulars about midday Tuesday, citing the renaming of Jackson-Jefferson Day events by state Democratic parties in Georgia, Connecticut and elsewhere. The message included Jackson’s legacy as “infusing” the party with the idea “that the common man has a place in the political process and is no less important than the rich and powerful.” But she said if the party doesn’t “acknowledge Jackson’s participation in slavery or the forced removal of Native Americans from their lands, then we would be derelict in our stewardship of that legacy. (Note: Full is posted below.)
…Soon after the posting, state Rep. Darren Jernigan, D-Nashville, said his phone and email “blew up” with opposition to Mancini’s message. He represents Jackson’s home area, where The Hermitage is located.
“I’m frankly not very pleased. I think it hurts the party. I think basically she’s creating her own problem. If she wants to have a conversation I’ll be happy to have it. I’m against it (removing Jackson’s name) and I think my Democratic colleagues in the Davidson County delegation are against it. It’s almost offensive to bring it up. I just don’t get it,” Jernigan said.
…Mancini, who was elected state party chairman in January, said she’s received a “good reaction. Some are saying let’s change the name; others are saying let’s keep the name. Others are saying thank you for having the conversation. No one has asked for removal of the name.”
Further, from The Tennessean’s Dave Boucher:
That discussion is a good thing, argued Jason Nelson, vice president of marketing and sales at The Hermitage.
“The conversation Mary wants to have is the same one we’d like to have. Ironically, we launched a new exhibit about Andrew Jackson in January with this very discussion in mind,” Nelson said in a prepared statement to The Tennessean.
“In our new exhibit, we present both light and dark elements. That’s the Jackson story. It’s also the American story. We run to it rather than run from it because it’s interesting, it’s our history and there’s much we can learn from it.”