Governors Endorsement great, But He Turns Into A Coward
Virginia governor apologizes for slavery omission
WASHINGTON (AFP) – Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell apologized late Wednesday for not acknowledging the role of slavery in a proclamation he signed declaring April “Confederate History Month.”
McDonnell recognized he had made a “major omission” in not citing slavery, a practice that sparked the 1861-1865 Civil War between the Union of 20 free states and five border slave states — and the 11 southern slave states that declared they were seceding to form a joint Confederacy.
“The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed,” McDonnell said in a statement.
“The abomination of slavery divided our nation, deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights, and led to the Civil War. Slavery was an evil, vicious and inhumane practice which degraded human beings to property, and it has left a stain on the soul of this state and nation.”
The Republican governor’s largely symbolic proclamation, seen as a move to build up support among conservatives, revived controversy over Virginia’s Confederate past and angered civil rights leaders.
McDonnell’s two successive Democratic predecessors had refused to issue the declaration honoring soldiers who fought for the South during the Civil War out of fear it would insult African-Americans, who make up around 20 percent of the state’s population.
In explaining his decision, McDonnell initially said Tuesday the proclamation would help boost tourism in Virginia ahead of the war’s 150th anniversary next year. Virginia was the site of many of the war’s battles and the state capital Richmond also served as the Confederate capital.
The governor said he did not refer to slavery because “there were any number of aspects to that conflict between the states. Obviously, it involved slavery. It involved other issues. But I focused on the ones that I thought were most significant for Virginia.”
The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) both condemned McDonnell’s decision.
NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous said the move “disrespects history and the people of Virginia.”