This President’s Day, Activists Encourage Historical Accuracy and Nuance

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President’s Day was initially created to honor the first U.S. president, George Washington’s, birthday. It eventually was expanded to include former President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, and in a contemporary sense is viewed as a day of observation for all former U.S. presidents. Now, as critical race theory in public education remains a politically divisive concept, activists and historians across social media urge people to think of today through a more analytical lens.

President’s Day comes in the middle of Black History Month, and several of the presidents honored today were complicit in the active oppression of Black and Indigenous people. Specifically, former President Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner, and historians later discovered his frequent assault of a woman named Sally Hemmings.

Others took note of President Lilcoln’s true legacy. Lincoln is known for reuniting a nation torn apart by civil war. While he was an abolitionist who never owned slaves and was responsible for his administration’s issue of the Emancipation Proclamation, he set up an infrastructure that would continue to oppress Black Americans. He was considered more of a centrist on abolition, which is sometimes not covered in public education.


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♬ Song of Freedom – Dara Tucker

On today’s federal holiday, even some contemporary politicians have posted factually inaccurate or explosive claims. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia tweeted what was essentially a call for national secession, which is ironically what former President Lincoln worked to end during his Civil War-era presidency being honored today.


The placement of today’s federal holiday during Black History Month was food for thought across Twitter today.

Founding fathers and older presidents are not the only names trending today. Many honor former President Jimmy Carter, who entered hospice care several days ago. Carter is the oldest living U.S. president at 98 years old.

Current U.S. President Joe Biden is visiting Kyiv, Ukraine today, amid the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia. The Biden administration’s support for Ukraine has continued to divide political parties. Some praise Biden’s support of Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky’s democracy today, but several GOP politicians have criticized the visit.


President’s Day has long been regarded as an important show of the importance of democracy, and some feel that Biden’s foreign visit was just the right move to commemorate the day.

Regardless of the public opinion surrounding the many presidents being honored today, educators continue to push for a neutral approach to political history. Hank Green shared a brief history of today’s holiday on his long running CrashCourse.

The United States was founded approximately 247 years ago, and many currently in office argue that there remains much progress to be made. Today offers a day of much needed reflection, and one that speaks both advice and cautionary tales.

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