RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A historian appointed to the Virginia Board of Historic Resources by Gov. Glenn Youngkin has resigned from the board following controversial comments she made about Confederate statues, the Civil War and slavery.
Ann McLean, a historian in Richmond and former head of a Christian school, was picked by Youngkin in July to join the board. Remarks she made about Confederate monuments and the Civil War before and after her appointment were criticized by Virginia lawmakers and Youngkin.
The state’s historic resources board, along with the state review board, considers nominations of historic sites for listing in the Virginia Landmarks Register (VLR) and the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), according to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
Those boards also review the proposed updates and boundary increases to nominations for historic sites listed in the NRHP and VLR. The historic resources board considers all new or proposed updates to new preservation easements and historical highway markers.
In a radio interview last year, McLean defended Confederate monuments’ place in Virginia and criticized the efforts to bring them down.
“I think that the Southerners knew that their story of why they fought the Civil War was not being told correctly,” McLean told radio host John Reid on WRVA radio last December. “Fake news, or false narratives, are not new, and this whole tragedy is that these statues were built to tell the true story of the American South to people 500 years from now.
“But we have forces right here 150 years later that want to destroy the evidence of that story, and you know, the fight for sovereignty of each state.”
After she was announced as one of Youngkin’s picks for the state board, McLean returned to Reid’s radio show and spoke about her past comments. She compared the calling of troops to Confederate states during the Civil War to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said she believed Southern states would have eventually outlawed slavery.
“Secession was not treason. Everyone was allowed, each state was allowed to secede. We all had seceded from Britain, so that’s what, each state was like its own country. So Lee considered Virginia his country and, you know, invasion, just like we see, you know, Russia invading Ukraine, invading a new territory was wrong. So many people want to just flatten the whole Civil War to slavery and, of course, we know slavery is not good but I think the South, I think a lot of slavery would’ve been outlawed in the South within five to ten years but they wanted to do it on their own time.”Ann McLean on the John Reid show on July 18, 2022
McLean was also quoted in The Virginia Star as saying she thinks “we should try to preserve the wonderful heritage that we have in Virginia and that our heritage has come under a vicious attack.”
In an interview with WFXR’s Capital Bureau reporter Jackie DeFusco on July 25, Youngkin said he disagreed with McLean’s comments and that “we’re having a discussion about whether she can represent us well.” On Tuesday, a Youngkin spokesperson confirmed that McLean resigned from the board.
“After discussion about our Administration’s goals and priorities and Dr. McLean’s, Dr. McLean resigned from the Board of Historic Resources effective August 1, 2022,” Macaulay Porter, a spokeswoman for Youngkin, said in a text to WFXR’s sister station, WRIC. “The Governor has made his disagreement with her prior comments clear, and the Administration is focused on ensuring that our commonwealth’s rich history and resources are preserved, the best and the worst, for future generations of Virginians and visitors.”