RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax stopped presiding over the state Senate for the second year in a row in protest when senators again honored a Confederate general.
News outlets report Fairfax left the dais Friday just before Republican Sen. Richard Stuart spoke in support of Gen. Robert E. Lee and adjourning Friday's session in Lee's honor. Lee's birthday was Saturday.
History repeats itself. I will be stepping off the dais today in protest of the Virginia Senate honoring Robert E. Lee. I’ll be thinking of this June 5, 1798 manumission document that freed my great-great-great grandfather Simon Fairfax from slavery in Virginia. #WeRiseTogether pic.twitter.com/tG0QB9hHdR— Justin Fairfax (@FairfaxJustin) January 18, 2019
Fairfax is the second African-American elected to statewide office in Virginia history. The Democrat said Friday he wanted to be firm and respectful in his opposition to honoring Lee, pointing to Confederate efforts to preserve slavery.
Stuart said his request had nothing to do with slavery but with celebrating a "great Virginian."
Last year, Fairfax stood down when another senator called for adjournment in honor of Gen. Stonewall Jackson.