The freshly elected far-right mayor of the small French town where the slave-born father of the celebrated writer Alexandre Dumas is buried has dumped the traditional ceremony commemorating the abolition of slavery.
Franck Briffaut, the National Front (FN) mayor of Villers-Cotterêt, outside Paris, said he was against the "constant sense of self-guilt" fuelled by the event.
"The city hall will not organise it," Briffaut told AFP.
The decision outraged local anti-discrimination groups, as the city of 10,000 is considered a token of black people's struggle for freedom.
Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, one of the highest-ranking black person ever to serve in the French army and a former slave, died there in 1806 and is buried at the local cemetery.
The association Friends of General Dumas slammed Briffaut's decision as "extremely shocking" and "racist".
"He timely reminds us that no cause of human freedom is conquered forever," Pierre Tartakowsky, the chairman of France's Human Rights League (LDH) told IBTimes UK.
The son of a white French nobleman and an enslaved mother of African descent, Dumas was born into slavery in Saint-Domingue in 1762.
He regained his freedom upon moving to France, where he joined the military which deployed him in Villers-Cotterêts for a few years.
His son Alexandre, who wrote numerous all-time classics, including The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers, was born there in 1802.
Briffaut claimed he has nothing against Dumas whom he described as "part of the French heritage".
Celebrating the general and celebrating the abolition of slavery however are two separate issues, the mayor said.
"I've no problem with people who celebrate Dumas and his commitment as long as they celebrate Dumas!" Briffaut said.
Tartakowsky said that although Briffaut and his party do not advocate slavery, they convey a dangerous message for democracy: that France shall forget its past.
"They imply that the issue [of slavery] was not that serious and we made too much of it in recent years," Tartakowsky said. "Now it is time to turn the page. In a word: to forget."
Villers-Cotterêt, previously held by the Socialist Party, was one of the 11 towns won by the anti-immigration, anti-Europe party at local elections in March.