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Slavery apology
on the way?

House, Senate approve resolutions; Republicans concerned about reparation suits

By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — 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.

"An apology goes a long way. Some of us can't begin to heal until we have an apology. Some of us can't move into reconciliation until we have an apology," Sanders said.

Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, abstained from the Senate's vote. Attempts to contact Orr were unsuccessful.

Roger Bedford, D-Russellville; Tom Butler, D-Madison; and Zeb Little, D-Cullman, who represent other area districts, voted in favor of the Senate's resolution.

  • either 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.

    "It's been a long time coming," Moore said.

    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."

    The House and Senate acted after turning back efforts to turn the apology into an expression of regret for slavery.

    "What I have a problem with is apologizing for something I didn't do," said Rep. Jay Love, R-Montgomery, who tried unsuccessfully to rewrite Moore's resolution. His proposal was tabled 46-41.

    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.

    Opposition came from white Republicans who expressed concern the resolutions would be used to seek reparations.

    Moore and Sanders agreed to add language that said the resolutions were not intended to be used as the basis for lawsuits.

    Sen. Charles Bishop, R-Jasper, said he didn't want to be portrayed as a racist for fighting the resolution. "What I am is somebody who hates to see lawyers take advantage of the General Fund of the state of Alabama and suck it like a leech," he said.

    Sanders, a lawyer, said, "I didn't bring this resolution to lay a foundation for a lawsuit."

    Senate vote on slavery apology

    Votes Tuesday as the Alabama Senate, on a 22-7 vote, approved a resolution expressing state government’s apology for slavery. Voting yes were 0 Republicans and 22 Democrats. Voting no were 7 Republicans and 0 Democrats. Not voting were 0 Republicans and 1 Democrat. Abstaining were 5 Republicans and 0 Democrats.

  • REPUBLICANS VOTING YES

  • one.

  • REPUBLICANS VOTING NO

    Beason, S (Gardendale); Bishop, C. (Jasper); Dixon, L. (Montgomery); Erwin, H. (Montevallo); Glover, R. (Semmes); Smith, H.A. (Slocomb); Waggoner, J. (Vestavia Hills).

  • DEMOCRATS VOTING YES

    Barron, L. (Fyffe); Bedford, R. (Russellville); Benefield, K (Woodland); Butler, T. (Madison); Coleman, L. (Birmingham); Denton, B. (Muscle Shoals); Figures, V. (Mobile); Griffith, P. (Huntsville); Holley, J. (Elba); Lindsey, P. (Butler); Little, T. (Auburn); Little, Z. (Cullman); McClain, E.B. (Midfield); Means, L. (Attalla); Mitchell, W. (Luverne); Mitchem, H. (Union Grove); Penn, M. (Union Springs); Preuitt, J. (Talladega); Ross, Q. (Montgomery); Sanders, H. (Selma); Singleton, B. (Greensboro); Smitherman, R. (Birmingham).

  • DEMOCRATS VOTING NO

  • one.

  • REPUBLICANS NOT VOTING

  • one.

  • DEMOCRATS NOT VOTING

    Poole, P. (Moundville).

  • REPUBLICANS ABSTAINING

    Brooks, B. (Mobile); Byrne, B. (Montrose); French, S. (Birmingham); Marsh, D. (Anniston); Orr, A. (Decatur).

  • DEMOCRATS ABSTAINING

  • one.

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

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