updated 4/28/2005 5:56:57 PM ET 2005-04-28T21:56:57

Gov. Sonny Perdue signed a set of bills Thursday that erased the last vestiges of Georgia’s segregation-era “Jim Crow” laws.

The move was largely symbolic, since none of the language designed to skirt racial integration has been enforced for decades. But Perdue said it was important to show that the state rejects such notions, calling segregation “a tragic era in our past.”

“Anytime there’s a stain on the state of Georgia that we can erase or cleanse, we need to take the steps to do that,” said Perdue, a Republican.

Most Georgia laws that enforced racial segregation had already been thrown out. The remaining passages allowed the governor to close any school or college if there is a threat of violence — such as the mob scenes that sometimes developed when Southern institutions were integrated.

Other sections allowed the state to funnel money to private schools, which presumably would have allowed funding of whites-only schools after courts ordered integration of public schools.

State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, chairman of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, began pushing for the bills last year after learning the Jim Crow language still existed.

“It’s a great day,” said Brooks, who joined Perdue for a bill-signing ceremony. “This stain has been removed, to some extent.”

The bill signing comes after a session of the Legislature in which racial passions were inflamed over a measure requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. Black lawmakers led other Democrats in protest walkouts, criticizing the bill as unfair to minorities, the elderly and the poor, who are less likely to have driver’s licenses.

Supporters of the photo ID law said it was intended to crack down on voter fraud.

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