It was a declaration that sent shockwaves throughout Virginia and unearthed centuries-old enmity among African Americans. On April 6, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonell declared April Confederate History Month in the commonwealth and initially omitted mention of slavery, the institution that provoked the conflict between North and South.

But after facing a windstorm of nationwide criticism for excluding slavery in his Confederate History Month proclamation, McDonell revised the document and conceded that it was a “major omission.”

The previous day, McDonnell – the state’s first Republican governor in nine years – said he’d excluded any reference to slavery because he wanted to acknowledge those issues that were most “significant” to Virginia.

Raymond Boone, editor and publisher of the Richmond Free Press, said the governor’s declaration is a step in the wrong direction for the commonwealth.

“What the governor has done has boomeranged on him, and what he did was gave Virginia a black eye and re-tarnished the state’s image,” said, Raymond Boone, editor and publisher of the Richmond Free Press. “This is the state that went for Barack Obama in the presidential election and this is the state also that elected the first Black governor of the nation.

In a statement, the governor offered a mea culpa and condemned slavery.

“The proclamation issued by this Office designating April as Confederate History Month contained a major omission. 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,” said McDonell.“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.”

According to the Washington Post, McDonnell reached out to the country’s first elected Black governor, L. Douglas Wilder of Virginia, and Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Del. Kenneth Cooper Alexander to apologize after they publicly announced their displeasure with the document.

Despite McDonell’s revised proclamation, Boone said Confederate History Month detracts from the progress America has made.

“We were moving ahead in something of a progressive way to break away from our ugly past, but the governor’s proclamation, even with his revision, is unacceptable because it puts the confederates on the same plane as true heroes like Lincoln, Douglass and those 200,000 Black soldiers who turned the tide for the Union,” said Boone. “If you’re talking about balance, you would be putting emphasis on the triumph of the nation and the defeat of slavery, you would not be celebrating the people who brutalized and defamed and demeaned Black people in the most uncivilized way.”