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Georgia governor skeptical on slavery apology

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue said Monday he was skeptical about following Virginia’s lead in having his state apologize for its role in slavery. “Repentance comes from the heart,” he said. “I’m not sure about public apologies ... as far as the motivation for them.”
Sonny Perdue
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue addresses lawmakers on Feb. 1 on Capitol Hill.Evan Vucci / AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

Georgia’s governor sounded skeptical Monday about issuing a public apology for slavery, an idea that got a boost last week with the support of a Republican leader.

“Repentance comes from the heart,” Gov. Sonny Perdue said Monday. “I’m not sure about public apologies on behalf of other people as far as the motivation for them.”

Lawmakers planned to unveil a resolution later Monday that would acknowledge and apologize for Georgia’s role in the slave trade. Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who presides over the state Senate, said he’s working on the proposal. A resolution, as opposed to a bill, would not require Perdue’s approval.

“We’re putting a strategy in place now to move forward with a resolution,” Cagle said. “We pass a lot of resolutions down here and this is one that certainly has some merit.”

The move comes as Georgia considers a measure that would officially designate April as Confederate History and Heritage Month. On Monday, members of the Georgia arm of the NAACP were at the Capitol lobbying. The apology measure also has the backing of Republican state Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson.

Perdue said he would watch what lawmakers do, but he cast the issue as a personal one and said the state should look forward, not back.

“I haven’t run across anyone in Georgia who is not regretful and repentant of man’s inhumanity when you talk about owning one another,” the Republican governor said.

“Those of us in public office today, I think we’re called to live our lives and inspire our citizens to live their lives so that our children and grandchildren have nothing to apologize for,” Perdue said.

Virginia lawmakers last month passed a resolution expressing “profound regret” over slavery. Maryland’s state Senate approved an apology resolution Friday, and lawmakers in Missouri and Congress have proposed similar measures.