April 9th, 2010
08:13 AM ET
5 years ago

Obama: Virginia governor's slavery omission 'unacceptable'

 Virginia's proclamation of Confederate History Month without any reference to slavery was unacceptable, President Obama said in an interview broadcast Friday.
Virginia's proclamation of Confederate History Month without any reference to slavery was unacceptable, President Obama said in an interview broadcast Friday.

(CNN) – Virginia's proclamation of Confederate History Month without any reference to slavery was unacceptable, President Obama said in an interview broadcast Friday.

"Well, you know, I'm a big history buff. And I think that understanding the history of the Confederacy and understanding the history of the Civil War is something that every American and every young American should, should be a part of," he told ABC in an interview taped Thursday. "Now, I don't think you can understand the Confederacy and the Civil War unless you understand slavery. And so, I think that was a - an unacceptable omission. I think the governor's now acknowledged that."

Obama was referring to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who apologized Wednesday for leaving out any reference to slavery in his recent proclamation designating April as Confederate History Month, calling it a "major omission." McDonnell also said he would amend the proclamation.

Asked by ABC to weigh in on the dispute, the nation's first African-American president said, "I think it's just a reminder that when we talk about issues like slavery that are so fraught with pain and emotion, that, you know, we, we'd better do so thinking through how this is going to affect a lot of people. And their sense of whether they're part of a commonwealth or part of our broader society."


Filed under: Bob McDonnell • President Obama
soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    You know, a lot of us don't care in the slightest what Obama thinks is "acceptable."

    And if Obama is all that knowledgeable about the causes of the Civil War, then he knows that slavery was only a secondary issue. The primary issue was the sovereignty of the individual states–it was Lincoln's determination to ignore that sovereignty that led to the secession of the southern states, and that was what started the war.

    Now, 150 later, Obama is equally determined to ignore both the sovereignty of the states and the US Constitution and, personally, I hope it blows up in his face and causes a constitutional crisis challenging federal usurpation of power. For decades, Washington has been cynically evading the intent of bits of the Constitution it finds inconvenient, and with Obamacare has crossed the line into outright violating it.

    April 9, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  2. T'SAH from Virginia

    So with this said from our President, McDonnell, what happens NOW???? Are you still going to designate April as Confederacy/Civil War month – OR – Confederacy/Civil War/Slavery month????????? I hope it is the latter because then WE ALL could learn something.

    But about those tourists you want to entice and attract to Virginia – I don't think too many of them want to remember the grayest part of history of all times called SLAVERY!! But then again, you may get a few southerners coming who are proud of that moment!!!

    The best part about this – now we have Black History Month in February and Black History Month in April. Hmm, maybe we don't have to cover SLAVERY during February and leave it up to be covered during April!!!

    April 9, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  3. MARKPAIN

    I live in Alabama and I know cofederate history is never taught accurately. The confederacy was was treason pure and simple. Everyone involved even the rank and file soldiers shoud have been imprisoned for life and their property confiscated and given to the slaves and United States soldiers that fought to preserve this country. We worry about foreign terrorists but look at our own past and where the most damage to this country has come from then look at our politicians fanning the flames of the hatred. Its scary!

    April 9, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  4. OARFNY

    I think every governor in the nation should pass all of their comments, speeches, announcements and thoughts by this White House for approval before they are made public.

    April 9, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  5. Ben Dover

    Obama has put America on a path to decline and as usual is prostrating himself to discuss petty politics in Virginia. This was pointless. Obama's Democratic party led the charge in fighting to keep slavery so this is the norm for his standard one sided perspective. Lincoln a Republican led the charge to abolish slavery and sadly Obama is not fit to carry his boots.

    April 9, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  6. Casy

    Whatever! Obama's entire administration is unacceptable!

    April 9, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  7. Paul , St. Louis MO

    After 150 years why not have civil war history month? Why does this governor want to celebrate one side of the war the losing side. We are now one country. In the times before the civil war it was the United States "are" now it is the United States "is". Why does a Governor of the party of Lincoln deny recognization to Union soldiers and President Lincoln who saved the Union and united this country under one strong Federal Government?

    April 9, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  8. geecee

    And thank you again, President Obama, for not allowing the bigots to skate by on this one. The Civil War was fought because of slavery, first and foremost, and the states who wanted it to keep their economy going and the states that didn't want it because it was immoral and inhumane. Kind of the difference between good and evil. 600,000 Americans died in that War, more than any other War we have fought in. How can any patriotic American forget why that War was fought in the first place? The South hasn't gotten over it. They Lost. They also haven't gotten over this last Presidential election. They lost that too!

    April 9, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  9. grayfox43

    I agree that every American should understand what the American Civil War was all about, and of course, the role that slavery played in it. But people should also realize that slavery did not cause the conflict. It was only after Lincoln determined that he could use the issue to further his cause and the North's war efforts, that he chose to highlight it. Don't believe it? Then study just how racist Northerners were at the beginning.

    April 9, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  10. susanj

    The govenor of Virginia should be impeached. He is nothing but a racist.

    April 9, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  11. Rick K

    So if slavery is discussed in the context of history and the Confederacy, Gov McDonnell is a racist. If he omits the discussion of slavery, he's inaccurate. Why can people not see the two faced personality of this administration?

    April 9, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  12. Helen

    I hope some of these political people will look and take notes on what is acceptable and what is not in society today. We have a African American President but he is still serving everyone and not just the African American, Latinos. He is including every race in his discussion on how to serve the people. The only problem is the Democrats and Republicans who can't seem to agree or disagree on how the people of the United States should be treated. If Sarah Pissyy Palin would butt out of the politic arena then this country would be better.

    April 9, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  13. Eddie

    And your absolute Insult to our closest and best ali.....Isreal is also "UNACCEPTABLE" (matter-of -a-fact, you Mr Obama are unacceptable! )

    April 9, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  14. Bill

    To my way of thinking.....obama is "unacceptable"

    April 9, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  15. Whatever

    What a political ploy....

    I hate chip on the shoulder mentality. It is time to let slavery go and move on.

    Everyone knows it was wrong, everyone knows it was abusive.

    It is time to let the past bury the past.

    Obama, quit using slavery as a political tool to jab McDonnell. Seriously.

    April 9, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  16. Hugo

    "Now, I don't think you can understand the Confederacy and the Civil War unless you understand slavery.
    _______________________________
    I am not surprised that Obama couldn't understand the Confederacy without the aspect of slavery, which was the catalyst for war. It parallels the lefts understanding of the Tea Party movement, equating it to a racist movement due to our Presidents race in an attempt to besmirch its validity, it is all political posturing using racial lines to divide the populous by Big burdensome Government that continues to inflict economic damage to us all, it has nothing to do with race....

    April 9, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  17. Sniffit

    Oh boy...here comes the bunched panties brigade. Obama wasn't lambasting McDonnell, you crybabies. He mentioned his opinion of the ommission and acknowledged McDonnell's apology. That's all.

    Kudos to the first angry white conservative to blabber about reverse racism though. You poor poor victim...here, have a tissue.

    April 9, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  18. Caesar the Great

    So when will all this PC crap stop? The man said he made a mistake. Besides when will we move past the "we were slaves" mentality? 2050? 2100? 3000?

    April 9, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  19. Michelle

    The real error here is in thinking that the Confederacy was anything but a conspiracy to overthrow the government...these people were traitors, and it was only because of the largesse of Lincoln (who really didn't care about slavery) that they were welcomed back into the fold instead of tarred and feathered and hung. Why is Virginia still celebrating this at all?

    April 9, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
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