April 8th, 2010
10:16 AM ET
5 years ago

Apology not accepted, lawmaker says of McDonnell

'I expect respect from him and toward me and my constituents.  If he continues to do this, I’m not going to believe his apologies,' Virginia State Sen. Henry Marsh III said of the state's governor Bob McDonnell.
'I expect respect from him and toward me and my constituents. If he continues to do this, I’m not going to believe his apologies,' Virginia State Sen. Henry Marsh III said of the state's governor Bob McDonnell.

Washington (CNN) – An African-American Virginia lawmaker said Wednesday that he is not yet ready to accept an apology from Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, suggesting McDonnell’s misstep regarding Virginia’s confederate history is part of a pattern which calls the governor’s sincerity into question.

The Republican governor apologized earlier Wednesday after coming under criticism for issuing a proclamation that declared April to be Confederate History Month in the state but which made no mention of slavery.

Earlier: Not mentioning slavery 'a mistake,' McDonnell says

“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 governor also announced that his proclamation would be amended to mention slavery and call it “an evil and inhumane practice.”

But Virginia State Sen. Henry Marsh III said the mea culpa was not enough.

“He has a right to apologize,” Marsh, a Democrat, said on CNN’s “John King, USA,” “but I don’t accept that as a good answer because this is a pattern of this governor. He says the wrong thing, he sends a signal to his base and then he makes an apology. And this has happened many, many times so I think it’s a question of whether or not he’s sincere or not.”

Marsh also faulted McDonnell for not being sufficiently inclusive in how he governs Virginia.

“He set a high standard for himself,” Marsh said of McDonnell. “He said he was going to bring Virginians together, he was going to reach out and be the governor for all Virginians. But, so far, his actions haven’t demonstrated that. And this is the latest in a series of insults to a sizeable segment of Virginia. And I just think that we need to be careful – that you can do something and apologize and keep on doing it again. And I don’t think that’s the right way to govern all the people.”

Marsh added that he accepted McDonnell as “my governor,” but added “I expect respect from him and toward me and my constituents. If he continues to do this, I’m not going to believe his apologies. If he’s sincere then I’ll accept his apologies but, so far, he’s starting off on the wrong foot.”

The Virginia lawmaker also told King he’d be “glad” to meet with McDonnell.

While Marsh held his ground when it came to the Republican governor, McDonnell’s apology was accepted by a prominent, African-American Democrat.

“My great, great grandparents, their offspring and others were split up in the Commonwealth of Virginia & sold into slavery,” Donna Brazile posted on Twitter. “Apology accepted,” the Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor declared.

McDonnell was invited to appear on the Wednesday broadcast of “John King, USA” and the governor continues to have an invitation to come on the program, King said.


Filed under: Bob McDonnell • JKUSA • John King USA • Virginia
soundoff (288 Responses)
  1. Dave

    I would like to know the difference between what the governor said and Black History Month, Miss Black America and racial things like that.

    April 8, 2010 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  2. Dano

    Why are the southern states so stuck in the past? Next they'll be celebrating national KKK Week. I'm sure some Germans would like to celebrate Nazi history, and I'm sure there were some aspects of Nazism that didn't entail killing Jews or world domination, but it will always be known for those horrible aspects. The same goes for confererate history. No matter how you try to portray it (states rights, mint juleps, etc...) confederate history stands for slavery, civil war, and secession from the USA.

    April 8, 2010 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  3. Daryl J

    Wait a minute here, from where I come from, any time a white guy talks about slavery, he gets hammered for being a racist. Now in this case, the Governor leaves out the mention of slavery so that it does not appear we are celebrating the act of slavery itself, and just the history of the Confederacy. Blacks already have there black history month, and now they want a piece of this as well, when will it stop, when will the racist issue ever stop being thrown out there so much, Well never as far as I can see it with individuals like the Republican Gov. They will always assume we owe them something.

    April 8, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  4. Jim

    This proves Marsh is a die hard racist at heart.........nothing more needs to be said about the matter.

    April 8, 2010 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  5. EBC

    Honestly, Governor McDonnell should have KNOWN better. WHY on earth are we honoring the CONFEDERATES who LOST? WHY is it that WHITE MAINSTREAM politicians continue to glamorize the CONFEDERATE FLAG when they fought to CONTINUE SLAVERY and LOST THE WAR!!

    Why is Governor McDonnell promoting this ugly and horrific blood stain on our American flag and history?

    Some would say is the Confederates were TRAITORS, displayed an act of TREASON against the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!

    WHY didn't Governor McDonnell celebrate BOTH sides of the war, the Confederates and the UNION SOLDIERS too? BOTH sides fought and died honorably, WAR is nothing to be proud of when thousands of LIVES were lost.

    April 8, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  6. Jeff - Sarasota Florida

    This is the problem with this country... Slavery ended almost 150 years ago and there isn't even anyone alive anymore who lived back in the slavery days, yet we are still stirring it back up... NO ONE can change the past... what happened has happened... We need to move FORWARD and turn things around for the better, not waste time bickering over things that have already happened and can't be changed...

    The biggest discrimination going on in the workplace today is against the Healthy White Male... We are the only group that doesn't fall under the minority catagory so we give/get no breaks from the government...

    We have been segragated into multiple groups now and by doing that it has taken the power away from the people... When I grew up we were all Americans... Now we are "Africa" American, "Latin" American, "Asian" American etc... I fall under the "Caucasion" American group, but the reality of it is, I am an American, First and Last, not some other nationality first and American last... if you put this country last when you refer to yourself, then you should go to your first country of choice and live there...

    We need to get past all this racest stuff and all be just Americans for America and turn this country back into the best country in the world......

    April 8, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  7. Christie

    There is a different between a misstep and intentional disrespect. Virginia's Governor went into office with the intention of dismantling the Civil Rights laws. The oath he repeated in January included all the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia not just the tea baggers or tea partiers.

    April 8, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  8. luis

    I am simply disgusted with the attitudes of the leadership of the GOP. How insensitive, how annoying, how out of touch with the changes our Nation is experimenting. It is time for them to look at the results of the election of 2008. The people spoke and they elected President Obama to do what he is doing now. Deliver change to the american people. For them to just say no to everything the President wants to do is simply wrong. I still remember how I felt when they were in the majority and they let Bush do what ever he wanted to do. He bankrupted the country, took us to a crazy unfair war and we simply had to take it. Now that the democrats are in charge everything is a problem. Let me remind the GOP of their own words. Majority rules. And this governor is simply insensitive and racist. Otherwise, how in the world could you just forget what the civil war was all about??? He probably needs to re-read some history books!!! I give the governor an F on sensitivity, an F in history knowledge and an F over all. GOP sucks!!!

    April 8, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  9. willard bullock

    I am agreed with mc donnell

    April 8, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  10. jeff jackson, alabama

    For Pete's sake. It was a history issue not
    a political issue. Think about the countries
    that censor their history.
    How about: Cambodia
    Cuba
    China
    Venezuela
    Russia
    North Korea
    Would any one of you out there want to live in
    a country that censored it's history and sent
    it's citizens to re-education camps.
    Remembering history does not make you a
    racist or a bigot. Remembering history makes
    you wiser than the people who screwed up
    so much before you came along.

    April 8, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  11. GOP = "I hoe he fails"

    Creigh Deeds would have been a fine Governor. I seem to remember he and his supporters saying something about McDonnell being an out-of-touch right-wing extremist. Hummmmm.........

    You know there have been allot of accusations about racism lately. All of which have been dismissed by Republicans. Well what say we have another go at it.

    Let me be as plain as possible. BOB MCDONNELL IS A RACIST!! Okay. How do I know? Because racists are people who do racist things. Racist people do racit things. But for racist people, racist things would not be done. See how that works. I hope you're able to follow this.

    If tea baggers don't like being called racists, then they can stop carrying around pictures of Obama with an African witch doctor bone through his nose. And if Republicans don't like being called racist, then they can stop supporting people like Bob McDonnell.

    April 8, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  12. Craig of LA

    The genesis of the Civil War concerned the institution of slavery. It was the under-pinning issue that lead to seccession. The 'State's rights' argument was a mere fig leaf to obscure their true intent – their right to maintain the exploitive and inhumane economics of slavery. Folks, you cannot separate the Confederacy from slavery! Any other argument is disingenuous at best.

    Honoring the Confederacy and the men who fought as traitors against our country, and who believed that our black brothers were disposable property is truly despicable.

    We again see the rotten and ugly core of the fanatical fringe that has captured the once noble party of Lincoln, who must surely be turning in his grave. The fact that this Govenor is a purported 'devoted Christian' makes this transgression even more egregious and repulsive. If the man had any honor, any decency, he would resign.

    April 8, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  13. caution is appropriate

    McDonnell still has the opportunity to make a different statement. That is, he can take action to make Virginia a more incluseive state. Do that, and his apology is "good". Just saying "sorry" is not meaningful without intentional change.

    For example... could Virginia make an effort to stop calling the Civil War, "the war of Northern Aggression"... which is, of course, a lie.

    April 8, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  14. Gregg

    Learn to be politically correct!

    April 8, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  15. valwayne

    Of course the Gov apology wasn't enough. Its' never enough for those that want to play the racism card. It gets played over and over and over. Its getting so old and tired! The fake outrage and accusations are so constant and so over the top that real racism gets lost. Isn't it time to stop playing this game?

    April 8, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  16. Kate

    People like the Gov. are causing all the hate in this country. Who says race isn't an issue with the "good ole republicans"? They divide this country further by their hateful rhetoric. It would have been real easy to mention the slaves, then we wouldn't have all this controversy. I don't blame Sen. Marsh for not being ready to accept the apology. I am white and I hope the black people continue to stand for what is right.

    April 8, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  17. Sarah the baby seal basher

    He knew exactly what he was saying and playing to his hillbilly base.He knew he would be called on it,but that didnt matter,the base got his message.

    April 8, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  18. Craig Scott

    People say what they want until they get caught. Only then do they want to start issuing apologies.

    April 8, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  19. Pathera.Pardus.Pardus

    This is a political strategy which has proven to be effective for republican political candidates from southern states. I don't doubt that Gov. McDonnell considers slavery reprehensible personally, but if you asked him or the majority of republicans if they felt that any of the negative social-economic, cultural and pyschological elements found in many sectors of black communities across the nation and the south specifically had any connection to slavery and the oppression which followed it, I am almost sure they would say it doesn't, they believe in liberty and freedom and that those informed African Americans who suggest as much are likely "playing the race card".

    This is the larger narrative, that slavery is ancient history, that the confederacy represented noble ideas like "states rights" and any effort to align the confederacyprimarily with slavery and the terrorism which followed it is only political in nature, not factual ( an opinion which in itself is not factual)

    He is ginning up his base of conservative hyper-anti-government white southern voters, while simultaneously turning disenfranchised African American away from the the political process, by reaffirming the historical status quo which has been burned into the collective pysche of southern blacks, they understand intuitively that President Barack Obama's election could very well be a negative for blacks in southern states like Virginia if it reinvigorates the southern strategy for a new breed of revisionism driven ideologues.

    April 8, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  20. bonds3

    If we are to assume the governor is an intelligent man; how can we accept his apology?

    April 8, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  21. Florida Joe

    He was asked why he did not include it and he said he only included the important facts.......well NOW he says he's sorry for the omission?
    Typical Repub do something on purpose and when questioned..I'm Sorry....I'm Sorry..........between this clown and Steele they are getting a lot of practice on I'm Sorry....I'm Sorry
    Pathetic

    April 8, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  22. Maria

    How can you talk about the Civil War without talking about slavery.
    Slavery was the main reason there was a civil war. It amazes me how
    some people would just like to remove slavery from the history books and evidently from a declaration. How in the world did this man ever
    become a governor? Are we ever going to admit such a horrible time
    in American history or continue to sweep it under the rug?

    April 8, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  23. perryrants

    as someone who came from a christian people that were "enslaved" by muslim's for some 400 years, i say, it's time to get over it.

    PS. slavery was not an american invention. It has been around since the first rock was smashed into the other guy's head!

    April 8, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  24. Jason

    Just another white politician pandering to the right. Golly Jee we forgot to mention the confederacy's battle was also had a lot to do with Slavery. I have no problem with a "Confederacy Awareness/Education" month but not a "Confederacy" celebration month. The way this new governor was talking it sounded more like a "celebration of confederate history" month. Wake up America and let's start learning about the mistakes and injustices in our history and even in the history of the world so America doesn't go the way of the Roman empire...into non-existence.

    April 8, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  25. Christie Hardbarger

    Former Governor Wilder should have thought twice before he withheld his endorsement of democratic candidate Creigh Deeds. What did he think he was getting when he supported this white, conservative, silver-spoon Republican? While not formally endorsing McDonnell, he made appearances with him and refused to acknowledge Deeds. McDonnell is exactly as advertised....it is Wilder and his views that should come into question!

    April 8, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
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