Alabama House, Senate OK Slavery Apologies
Phillip Rawls, Times Daily (Florence, Alabama), April 24, 2007
The Alabama House and Senate approved separate resolutions apologizing for slavery Tuesday — one day after the official state holiday for Confederate Memorial Day.
The House used an unrecorded voice vote to approve an apology resolution sponsored by Rep. Mary Moore, D-Birmingham. About an hour later, the Senate voted 22-7 for an apology resolution sponsored by Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma.
Neither resolution will become official unless approved by the other chamber and signed by the governor.
Legislatures in Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina have approved similar slavery apologies this year.
The vote came as the Legislature resumed work after state offices were closed Monday for Confederate Memorial Day, and it occurred across the street from the building that served as the capital of the Confederacy.
Moore’s resolution expresses state government’s “deepest sympathies and solemn regrets to those who were enslaved and the descendants of slaves, who were deprived of life, human dignity, and the constitutional protections accorded all citizens of the United States.”
It also encourages “the remembrance and teaching about the history of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and modern day slavery, to ensure that these tragedies will neither be forgotten nor repeated.”
Sanders’ resolution says “an apology for centuries of brutal dehumanization and injustices cannot erase the past, but confession of the wrongs can speed racial healing and reconciliation.”
Moore said the legacy of slavery continued through Jim Crow laws that existed during many legislators’ lifetimes, and the legacy lingers today with white flight from public schools and job discrimination.
State Sen. Bobby Denton, D-Muscle Shoals, said he “searched his heart for the right thing to do” when confronted with the slavery apology. “It does not hurt to say I’m sorry,” Denton said. “The resolution wasn’t saying that we had to do anything, but it says we’re sorry.”
Opposition came from white Republicans who expressed concern the resolutions would be used to seek reparations.
(Posted on April 25, 2007)