Virginia Delegates Commemorate Confederate History Month…

but probably not in the way that the Sons of Confederate Veterans intended.

Today members of the Virginia Assembly in Richmond wore arm bands to commemorate the sacrifices of Virginia’s slaves.  From the Virginia Politics Blog:

The move was prompted by McDonnell’s proclamation declaring April Confederate History Month. When first issued, the proclamation did not include reference to slavery. McDonnell has subsequently apologized repeatedly for what he called a “major omission” and amended the proclamation to include reference to slavery as an abomination and the cause of the Civil War.

“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.”

“I celebrate because they endured unimaginable pain and suffering… I celebrate those who escaped slavery only to return to help others escape, like Harriet Tubman and her underground railroad. She made 13 missions to help rescue other slaves. It is for her I celebrate. I celebrate them all because finally they were able to find a way out of now 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.”

At Ward’s motion, the House of Delegates also agreed that they will adjourn today “in the honor and memory 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.” The House regularly adjourns in memory of prominent Americans or Virginians. The House agreed it will also today adjourn in memory of civil rights leader Dorothy Height.

4 comments… add one

  • Margaret D. Blough Apr 21, 2010

    Good for you, Virginia Assembly. It ought to be interesting to see how both the Assembly and whoever is Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia deal with an anniversary that is coming up in just nine years-the 400th anniversary of the first African slaves being brought to and purchased by settlers in Jamestown, VA. (apparently there are some who question whether the ship was Dutch as is generally believed and whether it might have happened earlier but 1619 appears to be the earliest year that it is certain that African slavery arrived in Virginia.) The African slave trade continued for nearly 200 years. Virginia was a major exporter in the internal slave trade which continued until the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in 1865.

  • JB Apr 21, 2010

    Virginia was a major exporter in the internal slave trade which continued until the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in 1865.

    Even though the Constitution of the CSA upheld the international/British ban on the slave trade?

    • Kevin Levin Apr 22, 2010

      JB,

      Margaret is referring to the domestic slave trade rather than the international trade.

      • JB Apr 22, 2010

        Oops–you’re right; I read that wrong.

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