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SUNDAY, APRIL 22, 2007

Georgia black leader unveils slavery apology in final hour

By Greg Bluestein
Associated Press Writer

ATLANTA — The Georgia Legislature’s black leaders had been promising throughout the legislative session they were going to introduce a proposal to ask the state to apologize for its role in slavery.

Within the final hour of the 40-day session came to an end Friday, they made good on their word. The four-page resolution would have the Georgia House express “its profound regret” for slavery.

“The members of this body hereby support the fair and accurate education of Georgia citizens about the inhumanity of slavery in order to foster a respect for the fundamental dignity of human life,” read the proposal.

It also traces the history of slavery in Georgia, including the state’s purchase of slaves to build and maintain state roads.

State Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, said the proposal lacks the support from the chamber’s Republican leaders.

“We don’t have consensus,” said Williams, chairman of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus. said. “But I want to spend the summer building it.”

In March, the Georgia arm of the NAACP called on the Legislature to take a cue from Virginia, where a resolution passed unanimously in February expressing “profound regret” over slavery. Lawmakers in Maryland and North Carolina have since adopted similar proposals.

House leaders have been skeptical about the need for an official statement of contrition.

“I’m not sure what we ought to be apologizing for,” House Speaker Glenn Richardson said earlier this year.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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