For Confederate History Month, Gilmore Will Rip Slavery
Cain, Andrew, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
RICHMOND - Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III, who touts his administration's inclusiveness, plans to denounce slavery as he proclaims April Confederate History and Heritage Month.
"Any proclamation would include everyone," the Republican governor said Thursday on a radio show in Richmond.
"There was slavery in this state [that was] abusive to people. The proclamation will reflect the complete society," he said.
In 1997, the Virginia NAACP criticized former Gov. George F. Allen for issuing a proclamation that glorified Confederate soldiers without acknowledging the suffering of slaves.
Mr. Allen later apologized to anyone he might have offended, but he charged that members of the group used the proclamation for political advantage.
Salim Khalfani, a spokesman for the Virginia NAACP, said he is willing to give the new Republican governor "the benefit of the doubt."
Dan McGuire, commander of the Virginia Society of the Military Order of Stars and Bars, whose members descended from Confederate officers or government officials, said he could support such a proclamation.
"I guess I support Gilmore," said Mr. McGuire, who lives in Reston. While slavery was "driven by economics," he said, "on the spiritual and moral side, it was a terrible thing."
But in Richmond, another prominent descendant of a Confederate veteran groused that Mr. Gilmore is "trying to mix two things together that are not mixable." He declined to be quoted by name, saying he wants to see the proclamation first.
The past is never distant in Richmond - home of Blue & Gray General Contractors, Blue & Gray Self Storage and Blue & Gray Transportation. Traveler's Alley, named for Gen. Robert E. Lee's horse, runs behind the red-brick house in downtown Richmond where Lee lived briefly after Appomattox.
While the Civil War lasted only four years, Virginians seem to battle annually over how the capital of the Confederacy should commemorate its heritage.
In 1996, city officials erected a statue of U.S. tennis champion and Richmond native Arthur Ashe on Monument Avenue, previously the city's tree-lined pantheon to Confederate icons such as Lee, Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson and J. …