Virginia's governor has courted controversy by declaring April "Confederate History Month," angering civil rights leaders who accuse him of pandering to conservatives.
Gov. Bob McDonnell quietly made the proclamation Friday by placing it without fanfare on his Web site, The Washington Post
reported. His two predecessors refused to issue similar declarations.
calls for Virginians to "understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War."
It includes no references to slavery or Virginia's civil rights history, which upset many black leaders and former governor Doug Wilder, a McDonnell supporter, the Post reported.
"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," Wilder said. "It's one thing to sound a cause of rallying a base. But it's quite another to distort history."
McDonnell defended the proclamation, saying it will promote tourism in Virginia, which next year will mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.