April 7th, 2010
06:53 PM ET
13 years ago

McDonnell: Not mentioning slavery was 'a mistake'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/07/art.2bob0407.gi.jpg caption=" '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,' Gov. McDonnell said in a statement Wednesday."]
Washington (CNN) – Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said Wednesday that his recent proclamation designating April as Confederate History Month "contained a major omission."

Earlier: McDonnell names April Confederate History Month

"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 written 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. In 2007, the Virginia General Assembly approved a formal statement of 'profound regret' for the Commonwealth's history of slavery, which was the right thing to do.

McDonnell also noted that while Virginia had been the Capitol of the Confederacy, it was also the first state in the nation to elect an African-American governor. "America's history has been written in Virginia," McDonnell said. "We cannot avoid our past; instead we must demand that it be discussed with civility and responsibility."

In his statement, McDonnell also announced that additional language regarding slavery will be added to the proclamation.

Prior to McDonnell's announcement, his Democratic predecessor issued a statement slamming the Republican governor.

McDonnell's original proclamation, "disregards history, is insensitive to the extraordinary efforts of Americans to eliminate slavery and bind the nation's wounds, and offends millions of Americans of all races and in all parts of our nation," said former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who serves as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Filed under: Bob McDonnell • Popular Posts • Tim Kaine • Virginia
soundoff (150 Responses)
  1. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The only mistake was slavery and the Civil War was fought to correct that mistake. McDonnell's omission is no mistake because it's recorded in our American history and this just represents his true colors and that's not good for the country.

    April 7, 2010 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  2. K.

    As a Virginian, the governor has insulted us all, but he's been doing that a a lot, lately. He meant to omit any mention of slavery because he planned to speak to his right wing base. I do not care if he plans to add new language.

    April 7, 2010 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  3. pattyd

    Meant to say- the entire proclamation is a mistake, Governor

    April 7, 2010 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  4. doro

    I suspect this is part of the GOP's ongoing campaign to stoke racial resentment among whites–the latest Rovian update on the traditional Republican "southern strategy". Commentors all over the internet are pouting about this already, and complaining bitterly about black "demands" to be included in history. If in the first place McConnell had simply issued a proclamation which included a routine acknowledgment of slavery, as previous governors had done, there would have been no need for correction, and therefore, zero publicity. This way, though, McConnell has very skillfully poured a little extra kerosene on the flames that Rush, Glenn and company have been fanning since Obama first took office.

    April 7, 2010 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  5. Jacques

    This guy is showing his true colors. Too late for the apology.

    April 7, 2010 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  6. Mickey, NY

    Impeach this piece of crap...there's NO EXCUSE for this rhetoric.

    April 7, 2010 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  7. www.BlowOutCongress.com

    Right.....he "forgot" about slavery. This way he gets to have it both ways: proclaim we should celebrate the days of the Confederacy for an entire month of every year, to placate the racist far-right (his base), while then saying he didn't mention slavery because he just forgot. This excuse is more flimsy, lame and unbelievable than saying "my dog ate my homework". Of course Virginians will undoubtedly believe him and let him off the hook: they elected this racist to begin with. Despite the evils of slavery that he now "remembers", he still thinks we should celebrate the Confederacy and everything it represented.

    April 7, 2010 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  8. Nija

    You knew exactly what you were doing. Racism starts from the dinner table and ends there too. You a man without conscience and may God give you wisdom and forgive you too.

    April 7, 2010 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  9. avatar

    I'm not buying it. Shame on you and all peoples who voted for you. Who you trying to fool?

    April 7, 2010 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  10. sara

    No Governor, YOU are a mistake for this country, let along your State.

    April 7, 2010 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  11. BMS

    Too little too late. This guy is a racist, along with anybody who even remotely wants to remember the Confederacy for what it was...built on the backs of slaves from the beginning.

    April 7, 2010 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  12. WEH

    While I do not agree with the governor, I respect the fact that he did not offer the patent non-apology, by leaving our the most commonly used word (If) from politicians and others in apologizing.

    April 7, 2010 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  13. andrewstl

    people of va who elected you made the mistake you ignorant fool!

    April 7, 2010 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  14. Ron Mosher

    This means absolutely nothing. He's just another southern conservative who hearkens back to those days when you could own and beat a black person and not have to call him Mr. President. Get lost!!

    April 7, 2010 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  15. Michael from Ventura

    Not even gonna go there--but I could!

    April 7, 2010 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  16. Mark Sanford, Gov of SC (when I feel like showing up)

    Actually, it is a good thing he is putting his racism out into the open for all to see.

    April 7, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  17. Tina Cole

    A shining star of the (R) party, duh, everyone but Mr. McD knows that the Civil War was a war of opposition – for or against slavery, apparently someone had to inform the Gov of VA just how wrong and offensive his "proclamation" was to many in the U.S. who don't hold his views and didn't believe in his stated version of this sad period of American history.

    April 7, 2010 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  18. Shirley In California

    He apologized – let's move on. Slavery was and will always be a stain in American history. I'm no fan of McDonnell but there is work to be done. Let's not get caught up in this.

    April 7, 2010 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    The mistake was the proclamation, not it's ommissions.
    This is another example of southern conservatives lack of sensitivity to others feeling and needs.

    April 7, 2010 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  20. jules sand-perkins

    I have read Govenor McDonnell's proclamation many times, especially the words about studying and understanding the period, trying to find a way to defend his failure to predict the probable repercussions of his not mentioning slavery.
    I cannot find a defense for his omission.
    In fact, I am forced to conclude, with great disappointment, that the omission was propably cynically intentional.

    April 7, 2010 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  21. Carolina Stein

    Would be okay if Germany proclaim a month TO CELEBRATE the Nazism, and start adding Nazis soldiers statutes and flags????

    April 7, 2010 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  22. Jay from Jersey

    How does a man like this get elected?

    April 7, 2010 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  23. Johnnie

    This is confusing. Slavery has been accepted by every civilization since the dawn of man and has oppressed every ethnic background. Is Governor McDonnell responsible for referencing all slavery or just the slavery in America? I am not sure why he is apologizing either. I am pretty sure he has not been a slave owner, nor was his parents slave owners. So why should he apologize? They way that I see it we are all born into this world to focus on our future and do well for future generations. Constantly focusing on who did what to whose people generations ago and using it as a political tool is the true misdeed and that should be apologized for. It hurts all people, today and tomorrow. To me that is offensive.

    April 7, 2010 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  24. unshrub

    Yeah, right.

    April 7, 2010 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  25. Liberal4Obama

    McConnell can forget any further political ambitions he is... how shall we say this with more subtlety... TOAST !

    April 7, 2010 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
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