OT CW News: Black Mayor OKs Confederate History
Black Mayor OKs Confederate History
Sun Mar 31, 6:31 PM ET
SUFFOLK, Va. - The mayor of Suffolk is the great-grandson of slaves, but didn't hesitate to grant a request to declare April Confederate History Month.
"We have rendered proclamations for other groups," Mayor Curtis Milteer said. "It's a matter of recognizing and respecting everyone's heritage, even if it is not the same as our own."
The NAACP said Milteer could be inviting discord.
Milteer's stand is not shared by Gov. Mark R. Warner, who last month decided not to issue a proclamation honoring Virginia's Confederate heritage in April.
"Over the past few years, the issuance of a Confederate history month proclamation has been a lightning rod," Warner said in his March 14 announcement. "My belief is that signing such a proclamation would not advance the healing process."
But Milteer said reflecting on the past is a way to bring people together to improve the future.
"The Civil War is over," he said. "History is history and we must move on. Whether we are sons and daughters of the Confederacy or the sons and daughters of former slaves, we are all Suffolkians."
Suffolk is one of nine Virginia towns and counties with Confederate history resolutions this year, said Lee Hart, spokesman for the Sons of Confederate Veterans (news - web sites)' Tom Smith Camp, which asked for the proclamation in Suffolk.
"We applaud him for issuing the proclamation because we feel it shows mutual respect for all cultures," Bill Richardson, commander of the Tom Smith Camp, said of Milteer. "I recognize the significance of what he has done. He's going to take a lot of criticism."
The NAACP says promoting Confederate history calls up ugly memories of slavery and racism.
"This raises a red flag," Charles Christian, president of the local NAACP chapter, said after learning of the proclamation Saturday. "I have major concerns with this and I'm a little surprised by it."
He said there could be repercussions. "Right now, I can't say what they will be," Christian said.
On the Net:
Sons of Confederate Veterans: http://www.scv.org/