February is recognized as Black History month. March is known as Women’s History month. Now, April is being honored in Virginia as Confederate History month. Virginia’s slogan used to be Virginia is for lovers. Now, Virginia apparently prefers to be known for haters. Virginia Republican Governor Robert McDonnell proclaimed April as the month for an understanding of the sacrifices of Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the Civil War. As an African American, isn’t this Confederate recognition like Germany recognizing the sacrifices of the Nazi leadership during World War II? Wouldn’t everyone think it was offensive to Jews?
So why was April selected? April 17, 1861 is the day Virginia seceded from the Union. Richmond later became the capitol of the Confederacy. Mississippi and Georgia have already acknowledged Confederate history month. Yet, two wrongs don’t make it right.
Originally, Virginia’s proclamation failed to even make mention of slavery. At first, Governor McDonnell said he didn’t think it was significant. That’s like saying the Holocaust did not exist or was not significant. Worse yet, it’s ignorant on the part of Governor McDonnell. Governor McDonnell later amended the proclamation to include mention of slavery as an evil and inhumane part of history. Why did anyone need to remind McDonnell about mentioning slavery? The whole idea is disrespectful to the slaves and their descendants whose lives were beaten, stolen and lost in slavery, whose families were broken up and sold and whose family members were lynched in Virginia.
The Confederacy was a rebellion that tried unsuccessfully to overthrow the US government to save the institution of slavery. If some domestic extremist militia group today attempts an armed rebellion to overthrow our government to advance their cause, will a future governor set aside a month to honor them? I hope the answer is no.
In Black History month and Women’s History month, we celebrate where we’ve come from. Virginia’s Confederate History month celebrates the way we were. The way we were involved slavery, a cruel and inhumane treatment of black people. There is inherent racism in this way of thinking. That’s the real problem I have with Confederate History month. So, no Governor McConnell, I don’t agree with the Confederate party celebration.
Governor McDonnell says the reason behind the thinking was to encourage tourism. There are other ways for Virginia to encourage tourism without offending over 20% of its population. When I was growing up, my family visited Gettysburg, PA, a major battleground of the Civil War. President Lincoln delivered the famous Gettysburg address there. At Gettysburg, President Lincoln declared we were a nation conceived in liberty and that all men are created equal. If Virginia wants to encourage tourism with its past history, there are positive non-offensive ways to do it.
I don’t advocate us ever forgetting about the Civil War and slavery. As an African American history major, I do not want us to ever forget the evil of slavery. I just don’t see the reason to celebrate the Confederacy anymore than I see a reason to celebrate the Nazi regime.
Virginia is definitely not for lovers unless you are a Confederate lover.