The South Will Rise Again?: Virginia and the Declaration of Confederate History Month

As the empire strikes back within the Great Age of Obama in order to strengthen the Republican, tea party, and overall conservative base, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, with a push from the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, has declared that the month of April will be Confederate History Month in Virginia. McDonnell not only desires to increase tourism in the state, but also to show citizens of Virginia the importance

to reflect upon [their] Commonwealth’s shared history, to understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers, and citizens during the period of the Civil War…

The declaration has angered many due to the oversight of slavery. On Wednesday, April 7, 2010, McDonnell announced his mistake calling it a “major omission.” Since the controversy has caught nation’s attention, the governor has revised his proclamation for the celebration by noting that

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 his painful part of our history….

A little too late governor, don’t you think? Well maybe the governor and groups such as the Sons of the Confederate Veterans see the history of slavery as inconsequential.

I have to ask myself; slavery…inconsequential? A system supported by the White racial frame, unlike anywhere in the world gave roots to theories that African men and women were noted to have oversized sexual organs, indolence, and deceptiveness, and a low level of intelligence.

A system that allowed Influential historical figures, and heroes that are celebrated today, such as Thomas Jefferson, Immanuel Kant, Carl von Linne (Carolus Linnaeus), George Mason, and Louis Agassiz utilized the field of science to suggest a hierarchy of humanity where Blacks were placed at the bottom of the ladder while Whites stood atop.

Slavery, a system that gave allowances for the horrific scientific and medical treatment and experimentation done on Blacks from the slave era to today in the area of the prison industrial complex, contraception for females, and etc.

Inconsequential? A system that gave birth to one of the first acts of terrorism within our country that targeted Blacks through the institutionalized method of lynching. All of which was used to maintain white supremacy.

Slavery…a system that gave way to cutting Blacks out of equal financial endeavors that were allotted to Whites.

Slavery…a system whose effects today have handcuffed and placed Blacks on the revolving and tilted playing field of educational opportunities designed by the dominant White majority which consciously and subconsciously reproduces subjugation and control.

Inconsequential? Slavery…a system that continues to this day which pulls back the ancestral scabs upon my soul when I am confronted with the overt and covert eyes of racism and hate. This is not to mention the effects upon Whites and other non-Blacks that are forced to ingest the elixir of the White racial frame that supported the foundation of slavery.

Ask your self…Inconsequential?


  1. Will

    Many whites do think that slavery was inconsequential. They don’t believe that it has no effects to the lives of blacks today because they conclude that since it happened years ago, that it has no effects on blacks today. Of course the argument is that blacks today have never lived through slavery. Plus, they don’t think that slavery was as traumatic as people make it out to be.

    • Dr. Terence Fitzgerald Author

      I feel you are exactly right Will. I have seen numerous appeals (monetary or official apologies) to groups such as the japanese (ex. concentration camps during WWII), native people (ex. the slaughtering and land theft), jewish people (ex. WWII), and etc. As they should, the country is willing to acknowledge these horrible events. But we as a country are unwilling to do the same for the events of slavery and the era of Jim Crow? Interesting.

      • ancientreader

        Why do some people have to beg others permission to access their own dignity–again I ask “why”? What juice are these nomadic Caucasian people drinking from subjugation of others? Alright. So they think that they’re superior to non white people, but how does such feelings or make-belief, transcribes into substance for them? Clearly they subjected to the same living conditions such as birth, death, sicknesses, harsh weather and many of disasters which plague the human race. It’s yet to be seen of what substance they’re getting from feeling superior to other race. My conclusion is, they have a mental illness that defaults on a state of full illusion, there got to be some inferiority complex deep within these people’s heart that they don’t want anyone to know about. They can’t stand trial in defense of their prejudice, which is not sustainable. Shame on you!!!

  2. marandaNJ

    Confederate History Month? Created to “understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers, and citizens during the period of the Civil War.”
    Well, this is perplexing indeed. Let’s analyze this. They decided to leave the Union to defend “the Southern Way of Life” and intrinsic in that institution was Slavery. It was actually the large slave-holding planters who instigated the secession since they had the most to lose. My understanding is that many southern whites had no desire to fight the north. But after the war began they felt disloyal to the south if they didn’t enlist. But many were actually hazy on just why the heck they were fighting at all!
    This so-called sacrifice they made was totally not necessary, given that the north was not threatening their lives, merely asking the south to give up slavery..and even that on a gradual basis. By that I mean it wasn’t a question of this invading northern monster coming to conquer the Hitler invading Poland. This was an entirely different set of circumstances.
    It was an idealogical difference within one country that centered around a perception of what was acceptable. The Wealthy South was addicted to slavery. They were willing to sacrifice the lives of other poor southern planters who did not own slaves to maintain their own cruel institution that provided Free Labor and enormous profits.
    Another reason that poor white southerners fought was because the elite southerners sold them a completely bogus bill of goods that Lincoln was trying to deprive them of all that was “decent and pure” about the southern way of life. They used all this absurd propaganda that if blacks were free..why no white women would be safe on the streets. Oh horrors! They told white men [some of whom lived in such remote areas that they’d never seen a black man] that if blacks were free, they’d rob and murder whites unmercifully.
    So you had a southern culture making “sacrifices” for what reason exactly? Not to keep the “imperialistic” north from using their resources and taking territory away from them. The north never wanted to “conquer” the south in the traditional military science definition of conquer. All they wanted them to do was give up slavery, especially since the southerners wanted to expand slavery into the newly forming western states.
    Thus, sadly, these sacrifices were a waste of human life committed to maintain a sadistic enterprise. It was, very simply, poor judgement on the part of the south and I don’t think they were fighting to preserve anything that was remotely worth saving. Sacrifices? That’s a huge misnomer.
    That’s like saying someone who commits suicide made “sacrifices” and we should honor them. Their suicide accomplished nothing, preserved nothing of value, and was enacted out of pure unadulterated greed on one hand and ignorance on the other.

    • Dr. Terence Fitzgerald Author

      MarandaNJ, I agree with your summation of the events. I particularly like your comparisons at the end. On a side note, I see this need to celebrate as a cry or yearning for times when the White racial frame was so overt and clear. If we are going to proceed technically, isn’t this effort a celebration of treason?

  3. marandaNJ

    Oh and by the way,lest we forget, Lincoln never wanted a war with the southern states. At the time Lincoln was elected, before Lincoln even passed One Law, the South Seceded of their own volition knowing Lincoln’s thoughts on slavery. So, nobody Made Them Leave the Union.
    Secondly, northern soldiers were stationed Peacefully outside Charleston, SC in Fort Sumter.Before the South seceded this Fort was already in place and manned as a protection post against invasion for the entire country.As soon as the south seceded, suddenly the south Perceived that post as “the enemy” even though two days before, they were just US military and nothing more. Plus, Lincoln specifically gave orders to the Fort not to fire on Charleston.
    But these “self sacrificers” just itching for a skirmish fired on the fort First. And that’s exactly how the war began. The last thing Lincoln wanted when he took office was a full-blown war on his hands. He was already very prone to long periods of severe depression, and never felt he could survive such a traumatic experience as leading the country through a war.
    Again, the South was baiting the north for a fight [suicide]. Not because they were invaded or their property/territory was at risk, but because they were addicted to a heinous life style of treating humans like cattle, and the free labor was just too profitable to give up without a fight.
    They also knew full well that the north had a bigger population and a huge factory system in place competing against an unsophisticated, agrarian society. Or rather the wealthy planter class knew. The poorer population had no inkling of what they were up against and the planter class never told them. Most of the rebel soldiers lost their lives because the planter class used them, and the typical southern small farmer was never the wiser.

  4. Kristen

    Appreciate the thoughtful post. I also wanted to pick up on Will’s assertion that most whites today find slavery inconsequential. I agree that one of the reasons for this is that it has been constructed as so far in our past. Two more reasons too: 1) We have an abysmal history education, where we don’t learn how integral slavery was to the growth of the US as a world power, how forced labor and the huge amount of wealth generated was so deeply connected to all major institutions and industries. 2) We (especially non-black Americans) do not understand at all what slavery was like for those enslaved. I had a student argue that there were “good slave masters.” When I pressed her on where she got this idea, she said it’s in all the history books. This perception of enslavement being a sort of neutral situation is, I think, reminiscent of how we think about prisons today. In conversation about prisons, a group of my students were ranting about how unfairly lavish it was, that inmates get food, clothing, shelter, don’t have to work, can watch t.v. all day, and even get free college degrees! They almost sounded jealous, and they were upset that convicts weren’t paying a higher cost for their crimes.

    Hello! Complete misrecognition of what a total institution is, what a lack of freedom means. It’s quite sad. The screwy logic people employ to construct oppression as a-ok says something very troubling about us.

    • Dr. Terence Fitzgerald Author

      Kristin, I feel your point about the educational system is exactly on point. So many people have no idea the financial ramifications that are still sending shock waves through this country in 2010. I am ashamed at the current approach by public schools to discuss topics such as slavery, Japanese concentration camps, and etc. I guess “don’t ask, don’t tell” is in effect not only in the military.

  5. marandaNJ

    I agree that all this Southern Flag Waving is Absolutely a reaction to Obama’s presidency. Let’s call it what it is.
    The south is basically saying, “We’re Americans too!” Really? And why would an African American man in the White House translate into negating your American citizenship status? How did we arrive at that conclusion? Such paranoia! Settle down Dixie.
    Just because America admires an African American man, why does this somehow take something away from “the Confederacy”? Sounds like somebody’s pride is hurt and there’s alot of silly pouting going on. Sounds like the South isn’t anymore sophisticated intellectually than it was 160 years ago.
    Scarlett, I don’t give a damn!

  6. 3groups

    This is the establishment that enslaved my Ancestors Twice, not White People but People of wealth and high standing. Slavery is Economics and has been from the beginning of the English Colonies when they needed servants they ripped kids, wives and Families from the streets in England and Ireland and being the first people enslaved in the Colonies it was later that Africans were brought into the picture and into a system already in place. I do not understand why the whole White Race is held accountable for what the wealthy in America did to us all in the 1600’s. “1723 Waltham Act”
    In the 1860 Federal Census only 1.4% of White Americans owned Slaves. In the same Census 4.5 million Blacks in the U.S. with fewer than 4 million living in the Southern Slave Holding States, of the Blacks 261,988 were not Slaves, of that number 10,689 lived in New Orleans, One of Americas leading African American Historians, Duke Professor John Hope Franklin, records that in New Orleans over 3,000 free Blacks owned slaves,or 28 % of the free Blacks in that City.
    This furthers my point that it was economics not hate that fueled Slavery, as you say Whites don’t believe that slavery was that bad- it was worse, when you get ripped from your family no matter the color of a persons skin that is a crime but as you said it makes one even madder when it is not aknowledged by the very people that put the group of people through it, atleast my Black Ancestors have left some knowledge of Slavery but my White Ancestors left a vague memory lost in history. The Government has always played Poor Whites and Blacks against each other and always will thats the way of this Country, We need to be brought together not apart for this reason alone, then and only then we will see the light.

  7. Hillbilly

    I’ve been watching all of this with my university located in Virginia, and when McDonnell was elected governor of the Commonwealth (hypocritical name and principles given the topic of this thread, don’t you think?) there were many of us wondering how this perception of American history, among other things, was going to pop-up.

    Sadly, the students of my university are fairly impartial to the designation of April as “Confederate History (Hate) Month,” which coincides with Jewish Awareness Month and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month at the university. So…not only does the designation and the “justification” given by McDonnell (he wanted to focus on the most “significant” aspects of the Confederacy, sorry…slavery didn’t make the cut) white-wash history, but lest McDonnell forget (or simply doesn’t know) that the formation of the KKK in the area was also a response to negative stereotypes and perceptions of Jewish people and outsiders coming into the area (hmmm, Asian Americans, possibly?) who were pitted against blacks to lower wages and conditions of work. These lower wages and conditions, mind you, put poor and working-class whites in the area at a disadvantage as well…

    The continued emphasis on a lost cause (the Confederacy) is even carried out to the university’s football games in the fall as people have superimposed the university’s colors onto the Confederate flag and made those “cute” little flags that clip onto your car’s windows to show your “university”/Southern spirit. So not only can they show their spirit for a university and a dysfunctional aspect of Southern culture and history, they can create a negative racial climate for racial-ethnic minority students at the university and those that possibly are visiting for the weekend as prospective students with their parents.

    What’s more, one of the local public school systems has been trying for a few years to create a high school course on “Civil War History,” which basically promotes the same “significant” aspects of Confederate history, particularly those in Virginia. Yet, we still cannot get a history class to sit down for a week (not even a month or a whole class!) to talk about black history locally, nationally, or globally.

  8. 3groups

    You have a point, I am 41 and I never knew any of the white Slavery issues until I began looking into my geneology, now how can we as a Nation be whole if we do not know the truth of this Countries HORRORS? This is not Taught in our History Books It is not brought up in discussions on the corner, it is not related to anything in our past, why? The same people that ripped Africans from their families did the same to the Irish, Scottish, English their own People and it showes just how ruthless they were. Yes we do have racism in this Country but it is false racism built by the very people who took our Ancestors from their homes. When I first found Black Ancestry in my Family I felt connected to something because being white we have no history or culture to connect to but when I got deeper into my ancestry I found out the connection with the whites that were taken from europe without consent to work on Plantations in the Colonies I felt a connection to them, I am angry that any one could be treated like the Europeans and Africans just to make a profit, just goes to show you if you are poor you aint SHIT in this Country.

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