Slavery Apology

February 25, 2007

Virginia's General Assembly voted unanimously to express "profound regret" for the state's role in Slavery.

Lawmakers say they know of no other state that has apologized for slavery. Missouri is, however, currently considering such a measure.

"This session will be remembered for a lot of things, but 20 years hence I suspect one of those things will be the fact that we came together and passed this resolution," said Delegate A. Donald McEachin, a Democrat who sponsored it in the House of Delegates.

The resolution passed the House 96-0 and cleared the 40-member Senate on a unanimous voice vote. It does not require Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's approval.

The measure also expressed regret for "the exploitation of Native Americans."

The resolution says government-sanctioned slavery "ranks as the most horrendous of all depredations of human rights and violations of our founding ideals in our nation's history, and the abolition of slavery was followed by systematic discrimination, enforced segregation, and other insidious institutions and practices toward Americans of African descent that were rooted in racism, racial bias, and racial misunderstanding."

Among those voting for the measure was Delegate Frank D. Hargrove, an 80-year-old Republican who infuriated black leaders last month by saying "black citizens should get over" slavery.

After enduring a barrage of criticism, Hargrove successfully co-sponsored a resolution calling on Virginia to celebrate "Juneteenth," a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.


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