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Democratic senator wants Georgia to apologize for slavery, Jim Crow

Sen. Donzella James
Sen. Donzella James

Credit: Lois Norder

Credit: Lois Norder

A Democratic state senator is renewing a call for Georgia to apologize for its role in the history of slavery and Jim Crow segregation practices.

State Sen. Donzella James, an Atlanta Democrat, filed a resolution this week that would have the state formally acknowledge "with profound regret" slavery and Jim Crow.

James, who is 71, said she remembers growing up in Atlanta during the time of Jim Crow. She said she remembers feeling hurt when she wasn’t allowed into the Capitol when her Catholic elementary school visited in the ‘60s.

“We need at least an apology for the Jim Crow and for the slavery and for the discrimination,” she said.

Similar measures have been proposed in Georgia before but failed to get approval.

James said the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus has discussed the need for the state to apologize for slavery since she first served in the Legislature in 1995.

“For more than 20 years we’ve teen talking about this, so it’s about time that we got an apology,” she said.

In 2013, when U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk served in the state Senate, the North Georgia Republican filed a resolution saying the state should express “profound remorse and lamentations” for slavery. Then-Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson, also a Republican, proposed similar resolutions in 2007 and 2009.

Several black House Democrats, including Midway Democratic state Rep. Al Williams, also have introduced similar legislation in previous years.

At least nine states have passed similar acknowledgements in the past dozen years, beginning with Virginia in 2007. Since then, states including Alabama, Tennessee and, most recently, Delaware in 2016.