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Protesting 'Confederate' proclamation, lawmakers wear black ribbons in memory of slave ancestors

Some members of the Virginia General Assembly, gathering in Richmond for a one-day session to consider amendments to legislation proposed by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), are wearing black ribbons in memory of ancestors who were held in slavery.

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.

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By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 21, 2010; 12:53 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , State Senate  | Tags: Bob McDonnell, Confederate History Month, Virginia General Assembly  
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There were slaves in Virginia?

Posted by: jckdoors | April 21, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Del. Jeion A. Ward is absolutely correct. Bringing Africans to this country was the single most stupid thing this country has ever done.

Posted by: checkered1 | April 21, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Ah seriously, who really cares? White folks have had to suffer Oprah for the last 20 years, doesn't that count for something?

Posted by: luca_20009 | April 21, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I take my hat off for
Del. Jeion A. Ward (D-Hampton)

A truly wise man.

Thank you, Sir.
(I'm a white man from Wyoming and I can see the wisdom in his words. Maybe these southern-church white-boys need to go to Midwest schools. Looks like their education is lacking.)

Posted by: DinkLane | April 21, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

"I am celebrating the thousands of African slaves brought to this Commonwealth for forced labor"

A very bad thing to do for sure, but when are they going to tie the fact that their african brothers sold them into slavery. It must have been very traumatic to be torn away from ones family and "sold" into slavery.

Posted by: mark0004 | April 21, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if people (especially afro-Americans)have ever wondered how the racial make up would be in the U.S. if there never was slavery. One wonders where their ancestors would have resided..and thus where their children and their children`s children would have lived and are living today.

Posted by: blazerguy234 | April 21, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

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