This afternoon, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) apologized for omitting slavery from his proclamation on Confederate History Month. Yesterday, he defended his original decision, saying that he focused on the “aspects” of the Civil War that were “most significant for Virginia.” Since that time, he has faced criticism from progressives, civil rights groups, conservatives, and even people and organizations that originally supported his campaign. From his apology statement:
The proclamation issued by this Office designating April as Confederate History Month contained a major omission. 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. 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 has also promised to add language denouncing slavery to his proclamation:
WHEREAS, it is important for all Virginians to understand that the institution of slavery led to this war and was an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights and all Virginians are thankful for its permanent eradication from our borders, and the study of this time period should reflect upon and learn from this painful part of our history.
As ThinkProgress reported earlier today, former Republican governor George Allen, who started the practice of Confederate History Month proclamations for Virginia, also had to apologize for leaving out a reference to slavery in 1997.