Maryland lawmakers approved an apology Monday for the state’s role in the slave trade, expressing “profound regret” that it once “trafficked in human flesh.”
Maryland follows Virginia in issuing a formal apology.
The vote in the House of Delegates makes the apology official, because a resolution doesn’t require the governor’s signature. The state Senate already approved it.
The resolution notes that slavery “fostered a climate of oppression not only for slaves and their descendants but also for people of color who moved to Maryland subsequent to slavery’s abolition.”
Co-sponsor Sen. Nathaniel Exum, a Democrat, said he was exhilarated that Maryland lawmakers decided to finally recognize the painful role the state played in slavery.
“Once we come to that recognition, maybe we will also recognize steps we need to do to get rid of the lingering effects of it on the people,” Exum said.
In the 1700s, slave ships docked blocks away from the Maryland State House, and thousands of enslaved men and women arrived in the town. Slavery officially ended in Maryland with the adoption of a new state constitution in 1864.
Author Alex Haley was doing research about his ancestors when he discovered that a slave ship had arrived in Annapolis in 1767 carrying one of his ancestors, Kunta Kinte.
The author’s discovery led to his groundbreaking book “Roots.”
A resolution to apologize for slavery passed the Maryland Senate last year, but the House of Delegates took no action.
Virginia’s legislature passed a resolution last month also expressing “profound regret” for that state’s role in slavery. Congress and lawmakers in Missouri and Georgia are also considering an apology.