Black legislative leaders said Thursday they will propose that Georgia apologize for the state’s role in slavery and segregation-era laws.
“It is time for Georgia, as one of the major stake-holders in slavery, as one of the major players in lynchings, to say it’s sorry,” said state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, a Democrat. “Sorry for the fact that it was involved in slave trade, sorry for the fact that it was involved in Jim Crow laws.”
The measure comes on the heels of a Virginia resolution, passed unanimously in February, expressing regret over slavery.
“If the capital of the Confederate states can lead the way in issuing an apology, then surely all of the other states that maintained slavery can consider doing the same,” Brooks said.
Lawmakers in Missouri are considering a similar proposal, and Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen introduced a resolution in Congress asking the federal government to apologize for slavery and Jim Crow-era discrimination.
Brooks said the Georgia measure will be unveiled in the next few days. Along with asking for apologies from the executive branch and legislative branches, it could ask an apology from Georgia’s judges.
The proposal is unlikely to find a warm reception in Georgia’s Republican-controlled Legislature.
House Speaker Glenn Richardson said it would be “impossible for legislation offering an apology for slavery to move this session” because it’s too late in the 40-day session. But he also questioned the need for any type of official apology.
“I’m not sure what we ought to be apologizing for,” the Republican said. “Nobody here was in office.”
Senate Majority Leader Tommie Williams, also a Republican, had a similar reaction.
“People shouldn’t be held responsible for the sins of their fathers,” Williams said. “I personally believe apologies need to come from feelings that I’ve done wrong. I just don’t feel like I did something wrong.”