President Barack Obama says Virginia's governor made "an unacceptable omission" when he proclaimed it Confederate History Month without mentioning slavery.
"I don't think you can understand the Confederacy and the Civil War unless you understand slavery," said Obama, the nation's first black president. First lady Michelle Obama is descended from a South Carolina slave.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell came under harsh criticism for issuing April's history month proclamation without any reference to slavery. The Republican governor at first defended his decree, saying it was intended to honor the Confederate sacrifice on Virginia soil and promote tourism. On Wednesday he apologized and added a paragraph condemning slavery, saying that leaving it out had been a "major omission."
Interviewed by ABC News on Thursday in Prague, Obama said the controversy was "a reminder that when we talk about issues like slavery that are so fraught with pain and emotion, that, you know, we'd better do so thinking through how this is going to affect a lot of people."