By Sonya Hudson, Managing Editor

Governor Bob McDonnell proclaimed April 2010 as Confederate History Month, a proclamation his two Democratic predecessors, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, refused to make.

In 1997, Governor George Allen started the practice of honoring the soldiers who fought for the South in the Civil War by declaring April Confederate History Month. Allen’s successor, James S. Gilmore III (R), incorporated anti-slavery language into his proclamation, a statement McDonnell left out.

McDonnell told The Washington Post that he did not include a reference to slavery because “there were any number of aspects to that conflict between the states. Obviously, it involved slavery. It involved other issues. But I focused on the ones I thought were most significant for Virginia.”

The proclamation was condemned by the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, the NAACP and the GMU College Democrats.

“The College Democrats are fed up with the intolerance of the McDonnell administration,” said Frank Anderson, a junior public administration major and the co-president of the GMU College Democrats.

“First it was the Attorney General’s insistence that GMU should remove sexual orientation from its non-discrimination policy,” said Anderson.

“Next, they started a frivolous lawsuit to reject health insurance reform that allows thousands of Virginia college students to remain on their parents’ health plans,” said Anderson.

“Now, Governor McDonnell has proclaimed April to be Confederate History Month.

His initial response to the glaring omission of slavery was that he only focused on issues that were ‘most significant for Virginia’,” said Anderson.

The governor’s office submitted a correction to their omission of slavery from the original seven-paragraph proclamation stating, “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.”

The inserted anti-slavery language into the official proclamation reads, “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…”

“Regardless of the Governor’s retraction, this proclamation and other actions demonstrate a pattern of intolerance from the McDonnell administration,” said Anderson. “While it is important to study Virginia history, we don’t think the Confederacy is something to celebrate. We are proud Americans who pledge our allegiance to the United States flag, not the Confederate flag!”

The College Democrats will be protesting McDonn­­­ell’s proclamation today at noon on the East Lawn, the grassy area between the Johnson Center and King Hall. Delegate Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) and Delegate Mark Sickles (D-Franconia) will be speaking at this event.

“We invite any students who want to stand against intolerance to join us on Monday,” said Anderson.

“Confederate History Month is offensive, backwards, and not representative of the majority of decent Virginians!”