updated 5/31/2007 11:31:05 AM ET 2007-05-31T15:31:05

Gov. Bob Riley signed a resolution Thursday expressing “profound regret” for Alabama’s role in slavery and apologizing for slavery’s wrongs and lingering effects.

“Slavery was evil and is a part of American history,” the Republican governor said. “I believe all Alabamians are proud of the tremendous progress we have made and continue to make.”

Alabama is the fourth Southern state to pass a slavery apology, following votes by the legislatures in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. Alabama’s Democrat-controlled Legislature approved the resolution last week.

The Alabama resolution describes “centuries of brutal dehumanization and injustices” and says “the vestiges of slavery are ever before African-American citizens.”

It also says the House and Senate “express our profound regret for the State of Alabama’s role in slavery and that we apologize for the wrongs inflicted by slavery and its after effects in the United States of America.”

“This proves Alabama is open for everyone and we are ready to improve race relations,” said state Rep. Mary Moore, a Birmingham Democrat who sponsored the resolution. “The issue of slavery and its impact on the country had been kept in the closet until a few Southern states said, ’We want to take it out of the closet.”’

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