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April 9th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Divided over Confederate history

(CNN) – It started when Virginia's Governor, Bob McDonnell, reinstated April as Confederate History Month in his state. But during his announcement, the governor failed to make any mention of the word "slavery."

He has apologized, calling slavery "evil and inhumane," but that hasn't stopped the controversy. Matthew Whitworth, a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, supports observing Confederate History Month. He joined us on Friday's American Morning, along with Iman Shabazz, vice chairman for the Richmond Peace Education Center, who's against it.

Read more: Gov. McDonnell apologizes for omitting slavery in Confederacy proclamation


Filed under: Controversy
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. JB

    The war was about states right to own slaves, if denied then it was war.

    April 12, 2010 at 11:03 am |
  2. stephen rhymer

    The War Between the States was a multi facited war. Slavery is the emotional, easy to blame excuse. We forget it was also a war about economics and states rights.

    Slavery was horrbile. It's wrong now (although it still goes on with not a lot of notice or concern) and it was wrong then.

    We seem to forget that the North had this lovely custom of indentured servitude – slavery with a better name. Surprisingly, history books gloss over this item. We are led to believe it was more like an apprenticeship that what it was, slavery.

    We also equate other forms of serviture with slavery, which we should. Let's not forget the "company store" for coal mines and other industries.... nothing but slavery by another name.

    As long as slavery is the topic, why are we not asking Rome and Greece to apologise for their long record of slavery?

    Why is there not more condemnation of the African slave traders, many who were black? We don't hear as much impassiond hand wringing about them as we do the Southern slave owners.

    My family is from the South. Some fought for the Confederacy, some for the Union. We never owned slaves. I'm proud of my southern heritage.

    I think it's time history paints a more even picture of the War. The reasons may Southerners fought was not abot protecting slavery, it was about protecting their state from the meddlings of big government (sound familiar).

    April 12, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  3. Melon

    I just love how the foolish people claim the Civil War was about "States Rights" and not slavery. Too funny. The only "States Rights" the south was fighting for – was the "right" to own slaves.

    April 12, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  4. Jeremy

    isnt it funny how us "right wingers" hold on to this confederate pride, yet 90% of the blacks in America are born with a chip on their shoulder because they had to be slaves. there have been many races that have been slaves. the "right wingers" will let go of our southern pride when everybody else starting with the NAACP gets the chip off their shoulder. and also none of the blacks living today were slaves! you dont hear me griping about how my irish forefathers were treated like crap after the American Revolution

    April 12, 2010 at 9:42 am |
  5. ed

    the mother is right to send the boy back whence he came ! she is the victom not the bad guy, this kid most likely will be a problem for the rest of his life, the miletary is the place for him.

    April 12, 2010 at 9:10 am |
  6. john doe

    From slavery to todays black president, we all have made mistakes and dumb choices but rehashing over what has already has happened is not getting us nowhere, let look ahead not back, plzz everyone needs to worry about
    The future not the past, god help us all

    April 12, 2010 at 7:53 am |
  7. Ted

    I promise you there are millions of people out here
    who are so sick of your biased reporting. You who live
    in your gated communities obviously think that you don't have to
    care what is happening to our once great country.

    April 11, 2010 at 4:58 am |
  8. Prince Tamino

    Confederate soldiers do NOT deserve to be honored. They were traitors who fought to destroy the United States. Civil War history should be studied by all, but traitors should never be glorified.

    April 11, 2010 at 2:57 am |
  9. Scully

    In regard to the absurdity of a Confederate History Month, how would we feel if Japan had a Victory in Pearl Harbor Month? It is critical that we understand the Confederate perspective to prevent a reoccurance. However, celebrating Confederate History Month would indirectly excuse humanity's Trafficking in Human Persons around the world.

    April 11, 2010 at 1:45 am |
  10. Arleen Lindstedt

    Celebrating Confederate History Month simmers with the heat of racial brutality and bigotry.....Recognizing a civil war and honoring it are two very different things. The Civil War in America was a disgraceful lack of our humanity - based on economics and diminishing a group of people because of color.
    The Confederate States Vice President Alexander Stephens declared that the "cornerstone" of the new government "rests upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth".

    April 11, 2010 at 12:00 am |
  11. joe

    Maybe CNN could go to Arlington National Cemetery and find the truth. The first African American Soldier Monument is the 1914 designed by Moses Ezekiel a jewish confederate. He did it to depict and accurate potrayal for the confederate soldier.

    1st BullRun the Richmond Howitzers a black southern battery #2
    Cannoned the Union forces and routed the union army. 2black regiments supported them and saw combat against Union Forces

    about 83% of Virginia black male volunteered for service

    Battle of Griswoldvilles Macon GA 600 old men and boys died their Mostly black.

    Reporters should be neutral....Nice MOVE hope the TEAPARTY visits CNN when this country is handed back to Americans of any color.
    TOTAL REPORTER Malpractice

    April 10, 2010 at 11:19 pm |
  12. Apu Gabu

    I am not racist, however I feel there are many who have a distorted knowledge of history, I recently viewed CNN Live where it was proof that the CNN host fits within that realm, on this show there was a guest (an older, very informed, African American) who was trying to explain this, yet the one sided view ofCNN's host would not give him the respect to speak his point, it is sad that a news service as CNN would employ such biased people to represent them.

    April 10, 2010 at 10:52 pm |
  13. Richalene

    Since when is an act of treason considered upbeat and something to be celebrated? Virginia's decision to go to war against the Republic may
    have ostensibly been based in economics and slavery but it was, more importantly, an act of treason. I don't think that if a relative of mine had been involved in treason against this country, I would be very proud of it. Apparently, the Sons of the Confederacy and the governor of Virginia feel differently.

    April 10, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
  14. Pel

    It is not amazing how the Right Wingers still want to glorify the civil war. Their zest for the confederate past will be with them for another 100 plus years. As a 66 year old black man, I find nothing, and I do mean nothing but pain and suffering for people of my hue .

    April 10, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  15. Thomas in NOVA

    I would say that a Conferedate Holiday would be wrong. Why? Because it was a senseless war. I feel sorrow for all who participated in and suffered as a result of it. I think the same about slavery. It is hard to imagine a world that accepted slavery. So celebrating a hoilday would be a mistake.

    However, I do think that a Confederate History month is vital to forward progress in Virginia, as well as, the rest of the South. Even the North could stand to learn more about the conditions that led us to divide our nation.

    The Civil War or War of Northern Aggression (as spoken by some in the South), mean different things to different people. To some it is about slavery while to others it is about lack of representation in Congress. To many it is about strategy of battles while to others the sorrows of war. Regardless of your viewpoint, you are all correct! The only way to proliferate the views of each segment is by discussing the history subjectively so that one day we might all speak of the war objectively.

    We, as a nation, has grown immensely in my life time. Far greater growth has been shown by our generation than the generations before us. It is our legacy and duty to discuss the elements of the past and learn from them, so that future generations will not accidentally repeat these mistakes.

    If not via a History Month, then by what other means? Well, the war must be discussed in the schools, but moderated by objectively-minded teachers who will allow expression of everyone's viewpoint. Students should be taught not to cast judgement, but rather to understand the mistakes and the conditions that led to them. The goal is to learn while being compassionate for all that have suffered.

    April 10, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  16. Billy Bearden

    You know, and I can say with 100% accuracy that if in fact a Democratic Gov had done the same type proclamation, nothing would have been said

    April 9, 2010 at 8:34 pm |
  17. e. johnson

    enough appologies. It is history folks. we observed Black History month in February. Why not honor those young men who left their homes to fight for states rights. Most of them came from poor families, and they never had any slaves.

    April 9, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  18. farmmonkey

    I don't know why that one guy is so upset. If he doesn't like it, he doesn't have to observe it.
    Also, if he wants to protest slavery, then why fixate on only 4 years of American history? And then only one side. There were slave states that stayed in the Union.

    April 9, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
  19. Jason Smith

    Have we forgotten about what the Confederacy was fighting for? IT WAS SLAVERY!!. Why not have a Civil war month? Most battles in the war were fought in the state. Instead Gov. McDonnell is playing to a large population of people in the south and west of the state that don't see African Americans as being equal. This shows how little Virginia has changed in over 150 years. Vacationers should think twice about visiting the state.

    April 9, 2010 at 2:10 pm |
  20. bogart14

    Following Matthew Whitworth's logic, Germany should celebrate the "war aspects" of Nazism. Heros such as Hitler and Goebbels fought against international interference, and there is no need to mention the Holocaust National Socialist appreciation month because anyone with a basic understanding of history already knows about it. Just like how nobody need mention Frederick Douglass during black history month for the aforementioned reason. Its not like we should use "history" to teach about "history" during months nominally dedicated to the study of a certain aspect of "history". And Matt, slavery was not an "event". It was an economic system that existed in this area for hundreds of years, you racist bastard.

    April 9, 2010 at 1:52 pm |
  21. Mark-Anthony Canty

    I hate miss information, the Civil War was not about slavery, it was about state rights. It bothers me that people will not use a lick of common sense when it comes to this topic, its been politically correct to just say its about slavery. Only a handful of rich plantation owners had slaves and I think its safe to say they weren't the ones on the front line. The poor whites that fought for the South had the most to lose because slaves were pricing them out of the labor market. So why does this myth persist that 100K poor whites, and my grandfather who was black and even received a pension for serving in the Confederate Army, would put their lives on the line so a handful of rich landowner could have slaves?

    April 9, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
  22. ronvan

    For me, this one is simple! Racism is alive and well!! ANYONE who thinks the Civil War was about anything else needs a good brain alignment. States did not suceed from the union until they realized
    they were loosing, and IT IS those southern states that bear the sole responsibility for the ensuing war & loss of life!

    April 9, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
  23. atunionbob

    People need to remember that the civil war was NOT fought over just slavery. As Matthew stated in the Video here there were more issues involved. As a fact slavery was not made totally illegal until the Civil war was well underway and in its second or third year. Up until that time the war was being fought over states rights. So any black or white person who objects to a confederacy history month does not know their history and needs to go back to school and learn it.

    April 9, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
  24. john

    every time the gop want to rally their racist base make up something to beat up on black people, why that fool that called himself a governor didn't call to celebrate nazi because these guys are the same like the nazi, so also the so called governor.

    April 9, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
  25. Mountain Woman

    I have noticed something interesting in this discussion. I study genealogy and have found half a dozen grandfathers, uncles and cousins who fought in the Civil War. One died leaving a wife and 2 small children. I am deeply proud of them, but have never felt the need to put a little 31 star flag on the back of my car or wear it on a hat. Why? Because they ALL fought for the North. We won.

    April 9, 2010 at 11:44 am |
  26. Michael Carter

    Matthew Whitworth supplies the most accurate and "common sense" point of view in this case. Yes, Slavery was an abomination and Gov. McDonnell should be ashamed for removing anti-slavery language from his presentation.

    The problem is that, as Whitworth stated, we don't have to bring up slavery everytime the idea of the Civil War or the Confederate collective is brought up. The reason people are jumping on this is because it has an emotional attachment to those in the African American community, alright. But it is time to get over that and move on...

    Slavery isn't dead. It is alive and well but no longer are Africans being kidnapped and traded like cattle...women and children used as labor forces, factory workers and sexual slaves. Lets stop the over emotional bs already and finally kill slavery in the world rather then just crying whenever it isn't brought up.

    April 9, 2010 at 11:30 am |
  27. Dave

    Stupid doesn't begin to describe the South's stubborn clinging to a 150-year-old war the South LOST.

    YOU LOST, get over it.

    April 9, 2010 at 11:22 am |
  28. Pleeeease!

    I'm a graduate of Stonewall Jackson High School. (For the record, I also attended Stonewall Jackson middle school) Every year, because I live near Bull Run, I get to see both battles re enacted, both won by the conferates. As a virginian, I don't celebrate MLK day like the rest of the country, I have to celebrate Jackson Lee King day. And now in April, I get to celebrate Confederacy Month? In addition, according to your bloggers, I need to go back to Africa and should be satisfied with the shortest month in the year. Send the ticket. Please.

    April 9, 2010 at 10:29 am |