In a 368-word declaration, McDonnell designated April to commemorate the secessionist, slaveholding south.
"It is important for all Virginians to reflect upon our commonwealth's shared history, to understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War, and to recognize how our history has led to our present," the proclamation reads.
There's no mention of slavery in McDonnell's seven-paragraph proclamation. That has many feeling uneasy, including former Gov. Doug Wilder (D), who supported McDonnell in his campaign against Democrat Creigh Deeds. Wilder shared his thoughts with the Washington Post:
"Confederate history is full of many things that unfortunately are not put forth in a proclamation of this kind nor are they things that anyone wants to celebrate," he said. "It's one thing to sound a cause of rallying a base. But it's quite another to distort history."
Republican Jim Gilmore was the last Virginia governor to make such a proclamation.
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An NAACP spokesman accused McDonnell of trying to return Virginia to the days of slavery and Jim Crow, WAMU 88.5 FM reported.
April 17 is the 149th anniversary of Virginia's secession. Virginia's capital once doubled as the Confederate seat of government.