Virginia’s Governor Declares April as ‘Confederate History’ Month, Sparking Backlash Among Black Leaders

By Jonathan Blakely

Apr 7, 2010 8:53am

ABC News' Teddy Davis reports: Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell is declaring that April will be Confederate History Month in the Commonwealth of Virginia, reversing two previous Democratic governors who had refused to issue the proclamation honoring the soldiers who fought for the South in the Civil War. The proclamation comes just before the 150th anniversary of April 17, 1861, the day Virginia seceded from the union. Read the full proclamation HERE. According to the Washington Post, McDonnell said on Tuesday that he did not include a reference to slavery as former Republican Gov. Jim Gilmore (R) did in his proclamation remembering all Virginians who served in the Civil War 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 return of Confederate History Month, which started under former Republican Gov. George Allen and was ended by former Democratic Gov. Mark Warner, was sharply criticized by Virginia's Legislative Black Caucus and the NAACP. QuestionsView Results It also came under criticism from former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder (D) who told the Washington Post that it was "mind-boggling to say the least."
Wilder, a Democrat who was the first African American elected governor of a U.S. State, has previously been supportive of McDonnell and boosted the Republican's 2009 election by he not endorsing Democratic gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds. McDonnell's declaration calls for Virginians to "understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers, and citizens during the Civil War."
McDonnell's proclamation also calls on Virginians to "appreciate the fact" that the "surviving, imprisoned and injured' Confederate soldiers "gave their word and allegiance to the United States of America" after they were "ultimately overwhelmed by the insurmountable numbers and resources of the Union Army." Since being elected governor of Virginia last year, McDonnell has been seen as a rising star in the Republican Party. Earlier this year, he was chosen by GOP congressional leaders to deliver the official Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union.
McDonnell was also recently touted on "The View" by Mitt Romney as someone who "could be a strong contender" for president. Given that Romney himself is gearing up to run for president in 2012, Romney's comment fueled speculation about whether McDonnell could end up on Romney's short list for a running mate if the former Massachusetts governor were to win the GOP's presidential nomination.

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