Earlier this month, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) set off a firestorm of criticism when he quietly issued a proclamation declaring April “Confederate History Month” — without any mention of the atrocity of slavery. Eventually, he apologized for the omission and added language denouncing slavery to the proclamation. However, today, some members of the Virginia General Assembly — who are “in Richmond for a one-day session to consider amendments to legislation” proposed by McDonnell — “are wearing black ribbons in memory of ancestors who were held in slavery”:
“This is why I can celebrate Confederate History Month,” said Del. Jeion A. Ward (D-Hampton). “I am celebrating the thousands of African slaves brought to this Commonwealth for forced labor and in spite of societal restrictions and countless tribulations, they became some of the most learned men of all time. Yes, they found a way out of no way. … So today I and some of my colleagues wear this black ribbon as a symbol of our profound sadness for the horrors our ancestor faced and had to endure under the institution of slavery. But we also join in are celebrating with you because they finally found a way out.”
The House of Delegates also agreed to adjourn today in honor of “the thousands of slaves who played an important role in the building of the wealth of the commonwealth and for those who called Virginia their home,” as well as civil rights pioneer Dorothy Height.