Tag Archives: virginia

Southern Discomfort: Nostalgia for the Confederacy isn’t about heritage it’s about racism

cross-posted from T-Time
By JON MEACHAM

If neo-Confederates are interested in history, let’s talk history.

IN 1956, nearly a century after Fort Sumter, Robert Penn Warren went on assignment for Life magazine, traveling throughout the South after the Supreme Court’s school desegregation decisions. Racism was thick, hope thin. Progress, Warren reported, was going to take a while — a long while. “History, like nature, knows no jumps,” he wrote, “except the jump backward, maybe.”

Last week, Virginia’s governor, Robert McDonnell, jumped backward when he issued a proclamation recognizing April as Confederate History Month. In it he celebrated those “who fought for their homes and communities and Commonwealth” and wrote of the importance of understanding “the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War.”

The governor originally chose not to mention slavery in the proclamation, saying he “focused on the ones I thought were most significant for Virginia.” It seems to follow that, at least for Mr. McDonnell, the plight of Virginia’s slaves does not rank among the most significant aspects of the war.

“…the Confederacy and slavery are inextricably and forever linked”

Advertently or not, Mr. McDonnell is working in a long and dispiriting tradition. Efforts to rehabilitate the Southern rebellion frequently come at moments of racial and social stress, and it is revealing that Virginia’s neo-Confederates are refighting the Civil War in 2010. Whitewashing the war is one way for the right — alienated, anxious and angry about the president, health care reform and all manner of threats, mostly imaginary — to express its unease with the Age of Obama, disguising hate as heritage.

If neo-Confederates are interested in history, let’s talk history…
Read more: NY Times

Related:
Haley Barbour Defends Viginia’s Confederate History Month Proclamation

Just when Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was ready to move on from not mentioning slavery in a proclamation in honor of Confederate History Month, his friend Haley Barbour has come to his defense and made things worse.

Okla. tea parties and lawmakers envision militia

AP PhotoOKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Frustrated by recent political setbacks, tea party leaders and some conservative members of the Oklahoma Legislature say they would like to create a new volunteer militia to help defend against what they believe are improper federal infringements on state sovereignty. Tea party movement leaders say they’ve discussed the idea with several supportive lawmakers and hope to get legislation next year to recognize a new volunteer force. They say the unit would not resemble militia groups that have been raided for allegedly plotting attacks on law enforcement officers.

“Is it scary? It sure is,” said tea party leader Al Gerhart of Oklahoma City, who heads an umbrella group of tea party factions called the Oklahoma Constitutional Alliance. “But when do the states stop rolling over for the federal government?”

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President Obama On VA Confederate History Month: Omission Of Slavery ‘Unacceptable

Posted by: BuellBoy

Talking Points Memo~President Obama, in an interview for Good Morning America, said the omission of slavery from a Virginia proclamation dubbing April “Confederate History Month” was “unacceptable,” but pointed out that Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) had acknowledged and fixed the omission.

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Oh, Right, Slavery… My Bad

Posted by: BuellBoy

VA Gov: I Apologize For Leaving Slavery Out Of Confederate History Month

TPM~Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has apologized for not including any mention of slavery in his proclamation declaring April “Confederate History Month” and added an extra clause to the proclamation.

“The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed,” McDonnell wrote in a statement. “The abomination of slavery divided our nation, deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights, and led to the Civil War. Slavery was an evil, vicious and inhumane practice which degraded human beings to property, and it has left a stain on the soul of this state and nation.”

He also added a clause to the proclamation that declares slavery “led to this war.”

WHEREAS, 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 this painful part of our history.

McDonnell had taken heat from both critics, such as former governor and current DNC Chair Tim Kaine, and past supporters, such as BET co-founder Sheila Johnson.

In a statement to the Washington Post today, Johnson — who co-chaired McDonnell’s Inaugural Committee this year — condemned McDonnell’s decision to proclaim April as Confederate History Month, calling it an “insensitive disregard of Virginia’s complicated and painful history.”

“The complete omission of slavery from an official government document, which purports to be a call for Virginians to ‘understand’ and ‘study’ their history, is both academically flawed and personally offensive,” she wrote.

Kaine, who as McDonnell’s predecessor skipped issuing a declaration at all, released a statement blasting the governor.

Governor McDonnell’s decision to designate April as Confederate History Month without condemning, or even acknowledging, the pernicious stain of slavery or its role in the war disregards history, is insensitive to the extraordinary efforts of Americans to eliminate slavery and bind the nation’s wounds, and offends millions of Americans of all races and in all parts of our nation,” Kaine said.

A failure to acknowledge the central role of slavery in the Confederacy and deeming insignificant the reprehensible transgression of moral standards of liberty and equality that slavery represented is simply not acceptable in the America of the 21st century,” the DNC chairman added, noting Virginia’s work to elect Black officials in former Gov. Douglas Wilder (D) and casting its electoral votes for President Barack Obama.

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Virginia: Where History is Politics

Time Swampland/Adam Sorenson~Having grown up in the Commonwealth, I’m no stranger to the tensions that inevitably lie at the intersection of Southern history and Southern politics. Back in the 1980s and ’90s, Virginia had a very awkward thing called Lee-Jackson-King Day. Believe it or not, the government decided it would be a good idea to combine the long-standing local holiday celebrating Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, with the new federal holiday honoring Civil Rights icon Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (If you’ve never seen a man dressed in full confederate army uniform belting out “We Shall Overcome,” I can tell you it’s quite the spectacle.) Governor Jim Gilmore mercifully split the holidays in 2000, placing a weekend between the two, but how and when to recognize Confederate history remains a divisive issue.

Republican Governor Bob McDonnell is now breaking from his two predecessors — Democrats Tim Kaine and Mark Warner — by reinstating April as Confederate History Month, this year recognizing the 149th anniversary of Virginia’s secession from the Union on April 17, 1861.

Originally established by George Allen and continued by Gilmore, Confederate History Month has already ignited its fair share of controversy in the Commonwealth. But McDonnell may be further inflaming existing tensions with the language of his official proclamation. His decision to omit any mention of slavery from the document — an issue Gilmore handled by acknowledging African-Americans killed in the war and decrying the practice of bondage — has drawn the ire of Virginia’s NAACP chapter, the legislature’s black caucus and Douglas Wilder, the nation’s first African-American elected governor, among others. McDonnell’s explanation did little to quiet criticism Tuesday when he remarked, “There were any number of aspects to that conflict between the states. Obviously, it involved slavery. It involved other issues. But I focused on the ones I thought were most significant for Virginia.” Many feel McDonnell is glossing over both an important historical element of the Civil War era and a deeply personal issue. Wilder calls the proclamation “mind-boggling to say the least” and The Richmond Times-Dispatch, which endorsed McDonnell and has a largely sympathetic editorial board, opines: “The inexcusable omission reduces the slaves and their descendants to invisibility once again.”

There has been a longstanding effort in Virginia to better tell the story of American slavery. Wilder first proposed a National Museum of Slavery in 1993, and the project found funding and a home in Fredericksburg amid growing support over the last ten years. But with the economic downturn drying up money, 38 acres of donated land standing mostly empty and a backlog of real estate taxes piling up, the museum’s future home, thought to be worth as much as $7.6 million, is now in danger of seizure and auction. Wilder, who sits on the board of directors and has been the museum’s biggest proponent, has decided to suspend the search for additional funding.

Richmond is a city of conflicting traditions. Not only is it home to today’s statehouse, but it is the former capital of the Confederate States of America and a city with a population that is more than 50 percent African-American. While McDonnell’s decision has drawn praise from some Old South conservatives and groups such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans, it is ultimately a liability on the national scene. If he hopes to become a leading voice in the Republican party, McDonnell will have to better navigate the contradictions and tensions of Virginia politics.

The GOP will need to broaden its coalition to keep pace with a changing national electorate, and many feel McDonnell’s positive and pragmatic campaign style could one day serve the party well on a larger stage. But proclaiming April Confederate History Month without acknowledging the painful and indelible legacy of bondage does him few favors to that end. “[McDonnell’s] failure to mention slavery was a moral and historical mistake.” Conservative columnist Ramesh Ponnuru writes. “It is also, I think, a political one.”

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Obama then and now: Opens Offshore Areas to Oil Drilling for First Time

cross-posted from T-Time

Then: “When I’m president, I intend to keep in place the moratorium here in Florida and around the country that prevents oil companies from drilling off Florida’s coasts,” Obama told reporters in Jacksonville in late June. “That’s how we can protect our coastline and still make the investments that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and bring down gas prices for good.” Candidate Obama 2008

Now: This announcement is part of a broader strategy that will move us from an economy that runs on fossil fuels and foreign oil to one that relies more on homegrown fuels and clean energy. And the only way this transition will succeed is if it strengthens our economy in the short term and long term.

He added: “To fail to recognize this reality would be a mistake.” (today’s announcement)


Obama to allow gas and oil drilling off Virginia coast

President Obama is set to announce that he will allow oil and gas drilling 50 miles off Virginia’s coast, including a possible sale two years from now of leases off the state’s shores.

The decision, which Obama will announce with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar at Andrews Air Force Base this morning, ends a long-standing ban on drilling along much of the East Coast, from Delaware to central Florida.

Obama’s move will represent a victory for Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who campaigned last year on making the state the “Energy Capital of the East Coast” and using proceeds from drilling to pay for transportation. (Congress would still need to pass a bill allowing Virginia to receive royalties.)

Most Virginia leaders — regardless of political party — have expressed interest in drilling for oil and natural gas, including both U.S. Sens. Jim Webb and Mark. Warner and most members of the state’s congressional delegation.

But environmental groups and some Democratic members of Congress, including U.S. Reps. James P. Moran Jr. of Northern Virginia and Robert C. Scott of Hampton Roads, say they worry that possible spills and new infrastructure onshore and off could harm plants, animals, tourism and the naval base in Norfolk, the world’s largest.

more here: Washington Post

and here:  Obama proposes opening Alaska coastal areas to offshore drilling


Replay: President Obama Speaks on “Energy Security”

March 31, 2010 11:05 AM EDT

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President Obama: Strengthening America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Posted by: Audiegrl

President Barack Obama signs an executive order for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Friday, Feb. 26, 2010, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

President Barack Obama signed an executive order strengthening the capacity of and increasing the access to Federal funding for the nations historically black colleges and universities.

Obama says these schools have felt the pain of the recession most acutely because they enroll a higher proportion of low and middle-income students. He’s calling for increased funding for historically black colleges in his proposed budget.

President Obama says historically black colleges and universities still play a vital role and their success is crucial to a better future for all Americans. He’ll speak at the commencement ceremony for one of these institutions, Hampton University in Virginia, this spring.

The executive order is below:

Promoting Excellence, Innovation, and Sustainability at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Members of Virginia State University's Trojan Explosion Marching Band carry their drums through the Grand Foyer before performing at the White House. The band then watched as President Barack Obama signed an executive order for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Feb. 26, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Recognizing What Historically Black Colleges and Universities Mean to America

Written by William Jawando, Deputy Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement (cross-posted from WhiteHouse.gov)

“As I stood watching the Virginia State University drum-line perform in the White House this week (likely the first time an HBCU drum-line has ever performed at the White House), I was reminded of how far we have come as a nation and hopeful about where we are heading. The nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities have served our nation since 1837. They educated freed slaves, giving them the priceless gift of a mind filled with world’s possibilities. Today, this noble goal of our HBCUs continues as they unveil for their students the world of possibilities for themselves, their communities and our nation.

Guests attending this White House event left with a glow not unlike that of January 20, 2009, but they also left with a resolve to do the work that will be necessary to ensure all students have access to a high quality education and armed with the tools they need to reach for the American Dream.

When the President reflected on some of the legends that have matriculated through HBCU’s – Thurgood Marshall, Dr. Martin Luther King, WEB Dubois -I thought about how important and critically necessary these institutions have been to the fabric of our nation. I was reminded of the tremendous legacy of HBCUs and that when we invest in our young people at these schools we are preparing the way for the next King, Marshall, and Dubois.

President Obama has demonstrated his commitment to these institutions not just with this event, but also through his budget. The 2011 budget calls for $98 million in new money for HBCUs, including a commitment of $850 million over ten years. These are resources the schools can use however they see fit to build their capacity to deliver a quality education to their students. For the students, this year’s budget calls for an increase in the Pell Grant program, raising it to $5,710 annually. More than 50 percent of the students attending HBCUs qualify for Pell Grants and other forms of support. This is important because, as President Obama said, one in two students at HBCUs are the first in their family to attend college, and HBCUs continue to educate many students who often times would not be able to go to college for financial reasons.

The HBCU presidents and other guests present nodded in agreement as the President talked about the need to increase access and completion at HBCUs and the critical role they play. President Obama believes we must continue investing and supporting HBCUs as part of meeting his mission to develop a world-class education system in America. This is not just for the benefit of African Americans, but as we work to compete with our neighbors around this globe, it is to the benefit of all Americans.

Often in Washington we get mired in partisan debate and lose track of what’s really important. Education. Access to opportunity. A fair and living wage. These are things that matter and can make a difference in the lives of people no matter who they are, what they look like or where they are from. We were reminded of these truly American values this week, and for that I am eternally grateful. Now let’s get to work!”

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Little-Known Black History Fact: Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Posted by BuellBoy

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington (1869-1939)

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington (1869-1939)

When the students at the University of Pennsylvania enter its veterinary school, one of the first portraits they see is of Augustus Nathaniel Lushington. Lushington, a native of Trinidad, became one of the first Black degreed veterinarians in 1897.

Looking for job opportunities, Lushington left his British West Indies home with his new wife and ended up with a vet degree. Ironically, he had come to America looking for opportunity and ended up finding discrimination and racism.

He did most of his work out of Lynchburg, Virginia, where he would walk miles to treat sick animals in farm country. White farmers often requested his services but then refused to pay, and as a black man in the South in the early 1900s, Lushington had no rights for taking legal action or right to refuse services to the non-payers. Working for little pay, he took on other jobs, including meat inspector and a weekend probation officer.

Though he was subject to the social depression of blacks in the 19th century, Lushington’s work spoke volumes, and he gained national recognition. He held memberships with the Federal Department of Agriculture and Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce.

Lushington worked until he died in 1939. His practice was passed down to a father-son team, George Jackson Sr. and Jr.

Note: It was not until the veterinary school at Tuskegee Institute was established by Dr. William Henry Waddell IV that the number of African-American veterinarians in the United States began to increase.

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Police: Lone Shooter Kills 8 in Central Virginia

posted by: GeoT

Suspect in 8 Va. slayings surrenders after hunt
APPOMATTOX, Va. (AP) — A gunman suspected of killing eight people before disappearing into dense Virginia woods and firing on a police helicopter surrendered at sunrise Wednesday, ending an overnight hunt by dozens of law enforcement officers.

Christopher Speight, 39, approached officers at the scene of the shootings at about 7:10 a.m. and turned himself in, said Sgt. Thomas Molnar of the Virginia State Police.

This image provided by the Virginia State Police shows shooting suspect Christopher Speight, 39, who is being sought in connections with the fatal shootings of eight people in Appomattox, Va., Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010. (AP Photo/Virginia State Police)

Associated Press/Larry O’Dell

~Police with dogs and heat-sensing equipment hunted for a man they say shot eight people to death Tuesday and then nearly took down a police helicopter that was trying to flush him out of the woods near this central Virginia town.

State police said officers had the suspect, Christopher Speight, 39, circled in the woods late Tuesday near the home where seven of the bodies were found and they believed he was still alive. An eighth victim was found barely alive on the side of the road — which led to police being called — and died on the way to the hospital.

All the victims were adults and both men and women were killed, state police Sgt. Thomas Molnar said. Three of the bodies were found inside the home, and four just outside it, Molnar said.

Police refused to speculate on a motive and would not say what type of weapon was used. Molnar also gave no background on the suspect. Speight’s last known address was along the block where the shootings occurred, but Molnar did not know if the suspect was still living there. He also would not say if all the victims were shot at the home.

Virginia State Police gather while searching for a man that is possibly connected with multiple fatalities outside of a house on Snapps Mill Road in Appomattox County, Va.

The drama paralyzed the rural area as police swarmed forests trying to catch the suspect who fired at a state police helicopter, forcing it to land with a ruptured fuel tank, police said. No police were injured after one or more rounds struck the helicopter.

A National Guard helicopter with thermal imaging equipment were being used to search the woods.

They are searching the area and will continue until the suspect is apprehended,” Molnar said.

The violence began shortly after noon when the injured man was found on a rural stretch of road. A deputy who went to investigate fled after he heard gunshots, police spokeswoman Corrine Geller said.

When the deputy arrived on the scene, that’s when he heard several shots,” Molnar said.

Police did not release the victims’ names or the suspect’s possible relationship to them.

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