A Student of History

February 28, 2007

Va. Apologizes to Slaves, Indians

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Maass @ 12:23 pm

From Newsday comes the news that Virginia–where slavery began in what later became the U.S.–has apologized for that peculiar institution.

Meeting on the grounds of the former Confederate Capitol, the Virginia General Assembly voted unanimously Saturday to express “profound regret” for the state’s role in slavery.

Sponsors of the resolution say they know of no other state that has apologized for slavery, although Missouri lawmakers are considering such a measure. The resolution does not carry the weight of law but sends an important symbolic message, supporters said.

“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 apology is the latest in a series of strides Virginia has made in overcoming its segregationist past. Virginia was the first state to elect a black governor — L. Douglas Wilder in 1989 — and the Legislature took a step toward atoning for Massive Resistance in 2004 by creating a scholarship fund for blacks whose schools were shut down between 1954 and 1964.

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