Wednesday, October 06, 2010

News---Virginia's Confederate History Month Is No More

With Apology For Misstep, McDonnell Promises No Confederate History Month Next Year, Rosalind Helderman, Washington Post, September 24, 2010.

With apology for misstep, McDonnell promises no Confederate History Month next year Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) announced Friday morning that he will declare April 2011 "Civil War in Virginia" month, rather than "Confederate History Month," as he offered a humble apology for a proclamation this year that omitted reference to slavery's role in the war.

Speaking at a scholarly conference about slavery hosted as part of Virginia's commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War at Norfolk State University, McDonnell called this year's proclamation an "error of haste, not heart." "My major and unacceptable omission of slavery disappointed and hurt a lot of people--myself included," he said.

McDonnell drew criticism from across the county this year when he declared April Confederate History Month, a proclamation that came at the request of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Even President Obama weighed in, chiding McDonnell for failing to mention the role that slavery played in the state was the capital of the Confederacy. Within days, McDonnell had apologized and reissued the proclamation with a new reference to the "abomination" of slavery.

But in brief remarks at Friday's conference, McDonnell promised next year he will go farther, pledging to issue no proclamation honoring Confederate history, but rather one that acknowledges the broader sweep of the war in Virginia. "One hundred and fifty years is long enough for Virginia to fight the Civil War," he told the 1,600 attendees of the conference on "Race, Slavery and Civil War: The Tough Stuff of American History and Memory."

He promised Virginia would conduct a sensitive commemoration of the war in coming years. "For this to be truly one nation, under God, it required the abolition of slavery," he said. "A modern Virginia will take four years and will remember that past with candor, with courage and with conciliation."

In so doing, he will follow the lead of former governor Jim Gilmore (R), who broke with his predecessor governor George Allen (R) and first issued a Confederate History Month proclamation that included anti-slavery language and then changed the proclamation to note the Civil War broadly rather than the Confederacy. Democratic former governors Mark Warner and Tim Kaine declined to issue any declaration for the month, with Warner calling such documents a lightening rod that prevents racial reconciliation.

Text Source: Virginia Politics, Washington Post

Image Source: Kindred Blood

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