(CNN) - For the first time in eight years, Virginia's Republican governor has issued a proclamation declaring April as Confederate History Month in the state, drawing criticism from Democrats and a civil rights group.
"It is important for all Virginians to reflect upon our Commonwealth's shared history, to understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War, and to recognize how our history has led to our present," Gov. Robert McDonnell's seven-paragraph proclamation reads in part.
He quietly made the declaration after two previous Democratic administrations refused to do so.
"This defining chapter in Virginia's history should not be forgotten, but instead should be studied, understood and remembered by all Virginians," the governor's proclamation reads.
It does not mention slavery.
"I wish he would have followed the examples of Gov. [Mark] Warner and Gov. [Tim] Kaine, but obviously he has declined to do so," state Sen. Don McEachin, a Democrat, told CNN affiliate WWBT. "I also find it interesting that while he issues his proclamation, there's no mention of slavery."
The Virginia chapter of the NAACP also condemned the proclamation, The Washington Post reported. The group did not immediately return phone calls to CNN.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans asked the governor to declare the month Confederate History Month. Virginia seceded from the union on April 17, 1861.
Brandon Dorsey, a spokesman for the group, told CNN Radio that Confederate History Month isn't about slavery or race, but about studying the 4-year history of the Confederacy. He said it will also help draw visitors to the many Civil War battle sites in Virginia, helping to boost tourism.
"The proclamation's main goal is to call attention to the fact that there is Confederate history in the state of Virginia, of course, across the South. It's simply a tool to expose individuals to that history. It's not a mandate in any way. It's a symbolic gesture."
He said the group doesn't consider the history of the Confederacy or Virginia's Confederate History Month racially divisive. "It's not meant to discriminate against anybody," he said.
He said that the Confederacy wasn't about continuing the institution of slavery, but that it was really about the states' rights vs. the rights of the federal government. He said there were abolitionists in the group.
Other Southern states have issued similar proclamations for April. In Alabama, Republican Gov. Bob Riley declared April, the month the Civil War began, as Confederate History and Heritage Month. The statement condemns slavery.
SORRY!!!!I I voted for him and Ken Cuccinelli. First they declare that gay's can be discriminated against in hiring, then they file a law suit against the HEalth care bill based on a law that was not even a law when the Health Care law became a bill. They did not even sign the law until the day after the Health Care Bill became a law. Here's how that is going down. Federal law supercedes state laws and you cannot pass a state law the day after a federal law goes into effect. Even though the General Assembly had passed a bill saying it was against the law to require people to buy health insurance, it does not become a law until the Governor signs it. Now this Not quite sure what the two of them are up to, but my fear is that their radio and tvs are tuned to Fox, an entertaiment station, and buy their garbage. Can't wait to see what is next but please let me apologize for my poor vote. If the Democrats could have found a better candidate, we might not be dealing with all this nonsense. It just seems the two of them are trying to see how many different groups they can insult.
Southern republican conservatives will be fighting the Civil War from their graves. That is another thing that is wrong with the party of NO!
What is wrong with his proclamation? Yes, Confederates and the stars and bars symbolized slavery to some but furthermore it is the history of that state regardless. You may have had the majority of Virginia residents in the 1860s opposed to slavery yet the state sided with the South. It does not mean the state agreed with slavery. Now for the bigger issue-why is it whether it is the stars and bars, Confederates Day, or whatever that is a WHITE MANS history it is immediately called racist and the NAACP -who has nothing better to do- automatically condems white people for their historical views? You have black history month, black fedeal holidays, black radio stations, black tv stations, and anything else black people feel they want including holidays they get but a white person wants to have a special day we either have to include black people in the mix or be called a racist? Why is that?? Blacks are just as racist as white people yet white people are called under the carpet for something that happened 140 years ago and did not happen to this generation. This country is a racist country and now we have the president right along side of them. I am made to feel guilty for being white when I have done nothing but be born white. I say I support Confederates Day even though I do not live in the south. It is time white people start standing up on our feet instead of cow towing to the NAACP threats!
Regardless of how ugly it was, the Civil War is part of American history. Many of the soldiers on both sides that fought in the war did not even know why they were fighting. I am not a Republican, but I do not see anywhere in this article where anyone praises what happened in the war. All wars are ugly. This war was extremely ugly. But it is still a part of American history and you nor I can change it. Families that had relatives that were lost in this war should be able to recognize their loved ones.
Shame, Shame, Shame!
And they wonder why most african americans do not support their party – then pull crap like this. To black people (myself being one) – the confederacy is akin to nazi germany. We were enslaved – the only part that was good about the period was the end o the war. It was about states rights....the right of the state to retain slavery! I could almost support it if it was "Confederate Awareness Month" that focused on what never to do again – not heritage or memorial.
Virginians should remember this is the same guy who wrote the essay in college saying women should stay at home and not work.
This is obviously the next step in taking Virginia back to the 1800's!
Perhaps McDonnell's Confederate History month should have been, instead, an APOLOGY for Virginia's role in Slavery....not a celebration of the repression of other human beings.
Finally, if VA had an African-American governor...do you think this would be happening?? 'ja think?
I guess catering to the "Sons 'o Confederate veterans" is more to McDonnell's liking than dealing with the NAACP.
He didn't mention slavery at all or the horrendous effects of it. How can you study the confederacy without mentioning the main reason for the civil war, slavery as an economic system and way of life. This is bigotry and idiocy and you're basically standing up for it.
Yes, Virginia, you do have slavery in your past.
BTW – didn't the Confederates rebel against OUR country, making them traitors to the United States?
How can this fool believe this will help tourism?
It makes me never want to visit a state that would do this. What a first class idiot this man is.
A state that would allow this is dead last in my vacation plans.
this is stupid. this is a moment we should not honor. yeah we should study it but we should also be embarrased by it.
Secede again. This time we won't stop you.
Good for him. People on the other side of the equation want history months, TV networks for themselves, etc. Additionally, those who would argue recognizing the Confederate period of time via flags and celebrations (sic) "Reopens old wounds and promotes racism and devisiveness." Yeah, well so do demands for reparation, quotas, special tests for academic achievement, and on and on.
Good for you governor.
This is a big part of the history of Virginia and the US. The Civil War was about more than slavery. Should it just be brushed under the rug?
Is this clown trying to promote a civil war 2?
Kudos Governor. All history is important, and the Civil War is often misrepresented. Slavery was a part, but certainly not all of the story. Job well done. I’m not even from the South and I agree with this proclamation~
I live in Virginia and I am disgusted by this and what it says about the state I live in. Dear God, get me out of of the South.
Hey Governor – at least have the hypocrisy to look around the room before you tell a racist joke.
Governor McDonnell has the right to have Virginia Confederate history studied as long as it is a part of Virginia's long history. To only study one period in history and say that should be studied is ludicrous.
Most states require the entire history studied. Is there a state which just studies 4 or 5 years to the detriment of the rest of its history.
Since slavery is not an included topic than this is not a study of history. Instead children will study only what the Governor deems to be important. Which textbooks will students use? Is there a text written about Virginia' confederate history? f I oppose this choice of curriculum may I opt my children out during the time it is taught.
I think Gov. McDonnell has shown us all how history can be retold leaving out facts. Some of his statements in the past have been questionable. This latest idea sheds light on his beliefs.
As a parent this is one history unit I would monitor very carefully. I would want to see an outline of the course and know what tests were being used. Unless this unit covers slavery in Virginia during this time period it is not legitimate.
There are many ways to get public attention, fifteen minutes of fame.... Bob McDonnell found his.
'It was totally about states' rights. As in "you can't tell us what to do about slavery." Well, what about the slaves' rights?
I grew up in Virginia and have many friends there. This is an embarrassment. I say impeach the bastard.
How stupid is this guy.It just shows how hatefull and hurtful the republicans are
Just another loser republicant tool.
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Very irresponsible Governors. Shameful. Keep fanning the fire...........