Alabamians divided on slavery apology
MOBILE (AP) — A statewide survey found Alabamians are equally divided about whether the Legislature should pass a resolution apologizing for slavery, and that blacks are heavily in favor of passing it but most whites are not.
The survey by the University of South Alabama and Press-Register found 45 percent in favor of passing an apology and 44 percent against, with the remaining 11 percent unsure.
More than half of the whites polled — 56 percent — were opposed to an apology, while 84 percent of blacks were in favor.
The Legislature is considering two apology resolutions, one sponsored by Rep. Mary Moore, D-Birmingham, and another by Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma.
Moore said some of the poll results demonstrate the lack of progress in race relations.
"They need to go on and get out of that. They're just living in darkness," she said.
More than half of those polled — 55 percent — expressed concern that an apology would open up the state to lawsuits by descendants of slaves for monetary damages.
Sanders and Moore said they introduced the resolutions to education people about the impacts and legacy of slavery and segregation, not to get reparations.
D'Linell Finley, a political scientist at Auburn University Montgomery, said opposition comes from a variety of factors, including "a lack of education on this issue, a little fear and old-fashioned racism," as well as concerns about lawsuits.
Time is running out for the Legislature to consider a slavery apology. Sanders and Moore said last week they plan to merge their resolutions into one in hopes of getting it passed in the closing days of the session.
For the survey about a slavery apology, USA and the Press-Register conducted a random telephone poll of 401 Alabama residents from May 14-17.
The poll had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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