Democrat wants Georgia to formally apologize for slavery

A Democratic lawmaker is set to propose that Georgia adopt a resolution formally apologizing for slavery and segregation-era laws that left an "unbearable" legacy for blacks in the state.

State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta, sent over a copy of legislation he intends to file before the start of January's session that would express "profound regret for Georgia's role in slavery" and acknowledges moral and legal injustices perpetrated by the state government on slaves.

The proposal, which you can read here, is modeled after similar apologies adopted by lawmakers in Virginia, Alabama and elsewhere. Brooks, the head of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, pushed for an apology in Georgia in 2007, but it failed to reach a vote.

"I'm not sure what we ought to be apologizing for," then-House Speaker Glenn Richardson said at the time. "Nobody here was in office."

It's one of several proposals brought by Brooks meant to fire up the party's base. He has also introduced legislation that would raise the minimum wage and another that seeks to ban police from racial profiling.

It comes as Brooks faces an April trial on federal fraud charges accusing him of bilking funds while working for nonprofits. He has pleaded not guilty and said he had poor bookkeeping skills but that he broke no laws.

Here's a few key passages from the proposal:

WHEREAS, throughout their existence in America and even in the decades after the Civil Rights Movement, African-Americans have found the struggle to overcome the bitter legacy of slavery long and arduous, and for many African-Americans the scars left behind are unbearable, haunting their psyches and clouding their vision of the future and of America's many attributes;

...

WHEREAS, the perpetual pain, distrust, and bitterness of many African-Americans could be assuaged and the principles espoused by the Founding Fathers would be affirmed, and great strides toward unifying all Georgians and inspiring the nation to acquiesce might be accomplished, if on the eve of the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the first permanent English settlement in the New World, the state acknowledged and atoned for its pivotal role in the slavery of Africans.

 NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA that this body expresses profound regret for this state's participation in the process of slavery, further atones for the involuntary servitude of Africans, and calls for reconciliation among all Georgians.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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